Chinese stocks fell Thursday as tensions between the U.S. and China grew more strained after President Trump accused Beijing of trying to interfere in the U.S. midterm elections and of attempting to damage him politically.
The accusations come as a trade dispute between the two countries grows more heated with the imposition of a 25% tariff on more than $200 million of Chinese imports to the U.S.
At the United Nations and later in a press conference Wednesday, Trump said China was trying to interfere in the midterm U.S. elections in November in retaliation for his stance on trade.
“Regrettably, we’ve found that China has been attempting to interfere in our upcoming 2018 election coming up in November against my administration,” Trump said in his opening remarks earlier Wednesday while chairing the United Nations Security Council. “They do not want me — or us — to win because I am the first president ever to challenge China on trade.”
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, who attended the Security Council meeting, denied any intervention by China in elections in the U.S. or elsewhere.
“China has all along followed the policy of noninterference in other countries’ affairs,” Wang said. “We did not and will not interfere in any other countries’ affairs. We refuse to accept any unwarranted accusations against China.”
At a press conference following the U.N. session Trump reiterated the charges but when questioned about what proof he had he said that would come out later.
Chinese stock benchmarks SHCOMP, -0.54% fell 0.5% Thursday trading, reversing much of Wednesday’s rebound.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng HSI, -0.36% fell 0.4%.
Hong Kong commercial banks raised their benchmark lending rates on Thursday for the first time in 12 years, increasing the cost of home mortgage repayments in one of the world’s most expensive property markets. The moves, which come after Hong Kong raised its base rate in lockstep with the U.S. Federal Reserve’s rate increase, are expected to add pressure on the city’s real estate sector.
Singapore’s benchmark STI, -0.09% was higher for part of the session but closed down about 0.1%. It snapped what would have been its first 7-day winning streak of the year.
Japan’s Nikkei NIK, -0.99% fell 1%, reversing early weakness and spoiling what would have been a ninth straight advance.
Korea’s Kospi SEU, +0.70% , after this week’s regional ups and downs, gained 0.7% in its first day of trading this week after an extended holiday.
Meanwhile, a severe drought gripping much of eastern Australia is unlikely to be eased by usual spring rains, the country’s weather bureau says. The latest climate forecasts indicate conditions are likely to be drier and warmer than average over the coming months, meaning a low chance of recovery for drought-affected areas of eastern Australia, the Bureau of Meteorology says in its latest climate note. Australian stocks XJO, -0.18% were off 0.2%.
New Zealand will hit foreign tourists with a new NZ$35 levy and expects to raise an extra NZ$80 million annually through the tax. The government has been mulling such a tax as tourist numbers overwhelm infrastructure and the environment. The country has in recent years been a vacation hotspot for wealthy Americans. Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage says the money will help “improve the protection and enhancement of New Zealand’s distinctive natural environment and improve tourism planning.” Almost 4 million tourists visited New Zealand the past year; the country’s population is 4.7 million.
New Zealand’s benchmark stock index NZ50GR, -0.68% was off 0.6% even as the central bank there stood pat as expected on rates, with the country’s dollar pulling back.