Asian stocks traded mixed on Friday, as the overnight rally on Wall Street failed to translate after President Donald Trump indicated that more tariffs against China could be in the works.
Still, losses in the region on Friday were slighter compared to the sell-offs on the back of trade news last month.
Trump said late on Thursday during US hours that he has told US trade officials to consider USD 100 billion in extra tariffs against China. The president added that the move would be appropriate given China's "unfair retaliation," although he left the door open for negotiation.
US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said those additional tariffs would not be implemented until a public comment process was concluded.
Japan's Nikkei 225 gave up early gains to trade lower by 0.15 percent and the broader Topix was off by 0.09 percent. Meanwhile, South Korea's Kospi slipped 0.28 percent, paring steeper declines seen earlier in the session.
Over in Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 edged down 0.21 percent.
Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index rose 1 percent, shrugging off jitters seen in the rest of the region as markets returned from a one-day holiday. The heavily weighted financials sector traded in positive territory and index heavyweight Tencent rose 2.46 percent.
Meanwhile, US stock index futures tumbled following the latest trade-related development, with Dow Jones industrial average futures falling around 300 points. S&P 500 and Nasdaq futures also came under pressure early during Asia hours.
Earlier, US and European markets had advanced in the last session as trade fears among investors eased in the last session. The Dow rose nearly 1 percent and the pan-European Stoxx 600 surged 2.4 percent on Thursday.
Markets in mainland China, Taiwan and Thailand were closed on Friday.
Trade tensions back in focus
Investor concerns over recent US-China trade rhetoric have been in focus in the past month. Markets have been on edge over trade tensions potentially triggering a trade war between the two largest economies in the world.
"Capricious policies make for volatile markets," Jack Ablin, chief investment officer of Cresset Wealth Advisors, said regarding Trump's latest statement on tariffs.
China on Wednesday unveiled plans for additional tariffs on 106 US products. That came after the Trump administration released of its list of Chinese imports that could be targeted with proposed tariffs.
Although Trump's Thursday announcement raised concerns that there could be more uncertainty ahead, some in the markets indicated that the move could also be part of Trump's negotiation tactics.
The safe-haven yen firmed following the latest trade comments from Trump. Against the yen, the dollar traded at 107.13 by 9:43 a.m. HK/SIN, off levels around the 107.3 handle before the statement.
The dollar had touched its highest levels against the yen in three weeks in the overnight session amid improved investor confidence on Thursday.
"Markets are digesting the fact that most of the tough trade tariff talk is unlikely to result in action that will upset global growth or even come to fruition," Richard Grace, chief currency strategist and head of international economics at Commonwealth Bank of Australia, said in a morning note regarding the dollar's overnight move higher.
The dollar index, which tracks the US currency against six peers, traded at 90.336.
In corporate news, Samsung Electronics said its first-quarter operating profit was expected to climb 57.6 percent compared to one year ago, Reuters said. The forecast profit of 15.6 trillion won (USD 14.7 billion) was above a Thomson Reuters estimate of 14.5 trillion won.
Samsung stock was last down 0.78 percent.
In economic news, the Reserve Bank of India held policy rates steady and reduced its inflation projection for the six months ending September.Ahead, investors awaited the release of US March nonfarm payrolls due during US hours. Economists estimated around 193,000 jobs were likely added last month, according to a Reuters poll.