(Sharecast News) - Markets in Asia finished mostly lower on Friday, as investors digested fresh export data from China, and after US president Donald Trump issued an executive order banning dealings with the Chinese owners of popular apps TikTok and WeChat.
In Japan, the Nikkei 225 was down 0.39% at 22,329.94, as the yen weakened 0.09% against the dollar to last trade at JPY 105.65.
Fashion firm Fast Retailing was up 0.37%, while among the benchmark's other major components, automation specialist Fanuc lost 0.22% and technology giant SoftBank Group was 0.41% weaker.
Video games giant Nintendo was 2.58% firmer, after reporting a staggering 428% rise in profits as consumers took to its products amid coronavirus lockdowns.
The broader Topix index lost 0.2% by the end of trading in Tokyo, to settle at 1,546.74.
On the mainland, the Shanghai Composite was down 0.96% at 3,354.04, and the smaller, technology-heavy Shenzhen Composite slid 1.38% to 2,272.66.
Fresh data from China's customs authorities on Friday showed a 7.2% improvement in dollar-denominated exports on a year-on-year basis for July.
That result more than beat Reuters-polled expectations for a 0.2% decline.
Dollar-denominated imports, meanwhile, were down 1.4% year-on-year, against forecasts for an improvement of 1%.
"The latest China trade numbers for July showed that economic activity in the Chinese economy painted a rather mixed outlook. Imports showed a decline of 1.4% in US dollar terms, despite demand for industrial raw materials remaining strong," said CMC Markets chief market analyst Michael Hewson.
"This suggests that while Chinese industry appears to be back to normal, Chinese consumers appear much more cautious with internal demand remaining weak.
"Exports were more resilient rising 7.2% largely as a result of continued demand for medical PPE."
South Korea's Kospi was the odd one out, managing to gain 0.39% by the close to settle at 2,351.67, while the Hang Seng Index In Hong Kong lost 1.6% to 24,531.62.
Both of the blue-chip technology stocks were in the red in Seoul, with Samsung Electronics down 0.86% and chipmaker SK Hynix losing 0.62%.
Korean Air Lines was a big winner on the Korean peninsula, however, rocketing 5.52% after reporting a second quarter net profit, thanks to strong demand for freight services.
Tencent Holdings was down 5.04% in Hong Kong, after Trump's relatively vague order looked set to ban US companies from transacting with the firm, given it owns the popular messaging service WeChat.
The other company named in the executive order was ByteDance, which owns the popular social video platform TikTok.
According to the order, it will come into effect in 45 days, with the finer details of exactly what kind of dealings are to be banned set to be worked out in the interim.
"Asia markets weren't able to follow the lead of US markets largely down to concern about rising tension between the US and China after President Trump signed an executive order banning WeChat and TikTok as the US President sought to ramp up the pressure on Beijing as it seeks to widen its global influence by way of technology," Michael Hewson noted.
Oil prices were lower as the region entered the weekend, with Brent crude last down 0.73% at $44.76 per barrel, and West Texas Intermediate off 0.93% at $41.56.
In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 slipped 0.62% to 6,004.80, as investors digested the latest monetary policy statement from the Reserve Bank of Australia.
The central bank said the speed at which the sunburnt country will recover economically was "expected to be slower than previously forecast.
"Generalised uncertainty and deficiency in demand have turned out to be more of a drag on growth than previously thought," the statement read.
The RBA also acknowledged that the recent hard lockdown measures to combat a second wave of infections in the state of Victoria would delay the recovery further.
Across the Tasman Sea, New Zealand's S&P/NZX 50 was 1% weaker at 11,646.68, with the country's major exporters in the red.
Specialist dairy company A2 Milk was off 1.58%, and medical device maker Fisher & Paykel Healthcare was 2.85% weaker.
Both of the down under dollars were weaker on the greenback, with the Aussie last off 0.37% at AUD 1.3872, and the Kiwi retreating 0.57% to NZD 1.5039.
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