September 10, 2018 / 12:44 AM / 11 days ago

GLOBAL MARKETS-Asian shares on slippery slope as trade tensions take toll

* Asian stock markets : tmsnrt.rs/2C2BSt0

* Asian shares down for the eighth straight day

* Dour mood follows from losses in U.S., Europe on Friday

* Trade tensions a major worry for share investors

* U.S. Fed widely expected to raise rates later this month

*

By Swati Pandey

SYDNEY, Sept 10 (Reuters) - Asian shares started the week in the red again on Monday, faltering for the eighth straight day and the dollar climbed against major currencies after U.S. President Donald Trump raised the stakes in the heated trade dispute with China.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan were last down 0.2 percent after dropping 3.5 percent last week for their worst weekly showing since mid-March.

Japan’s Nikkei opened lower but quickly pared losses after revised second quarter gross domestic product data showed the world’s third biggest economy grew at its fastest pace since 2016. Australia’s benchmark share index slipped 0.2 percent, while South Korea’s KOSPI index eased 0.1 percent.

On Friday, Wall Street stocks ended lower while world share indexes registered their biggest weekly declines in almost six months after Trump threatened tariffs on a further $267 billion worth of Chinese imports, on top of earlier promises to levy duties on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods.

Beijing has warned of retaliation if Washington launches any new measures.

“The overall sense is that the United States will continue to escalate the pressure until China submits to U.S. demands which does not seem likely any time soon,” JPMorgan said in a note.

“Overall, the impact of tariffs and high levels of uncertainty will both continue to weigh on markets into the end of the year.”

Adding to the tensions, data out Friday showed China’s trade surplus with the United States widened to a record in August, an outcome that could further inflame Sino-U.S. trade tensions.

Trump, who is challenging China, Mexico, Canada and the European Union on trade issues, has now expressed displeasure about his country’s large trade deficit with Japan.

He said on Friday trade discussions with Japan has begun and added that India has also asked to start talks on a trade deal.

Also weighing on global shares was the prospect of faster rate rises by the Federal Reserve after data on Friday showed U.S. jobs growth accelerated in August and wages notched their largest annual increase in more than nine years.

The Fed is all but certain to raise rates a third time this year in late September.

The strong employment report boosted the dollar, which held on to Friday’s gains at 95.38. The index is up 3.5 percent so far this year.

Investors will next focus on U.S. inflation for August due Thursday and a stronger number could once again send the dollar surging.

The Australian dollar, a proxy for emerging market growth, slipped to its lowest in 2-1/2 years. The currency fell 1.3 percent on Friday and was last at $0.7115.

The euro held at $1.1555 after two straight sessions of losses while the yen traded in a narrow range, changing hands at 110.98

In commodities, oil prices were slightly firmer after three straight days of losses with U.S. crude futures up 35 cents at $68.1 per barrel. Brent crude futures added 37 cents to $77.20 a barrel.

Spot gold was mostly unchanged at $1,194.81.

Editing by Shri Navaratnam

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