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Asia stocks: China slides as EU tariffs take effect, Samsung boosts S. Korea Asian stocks were a mixed bag on Friday with Chinese shares sliding further as steep European tariffs on Chinese imports took effect, while South Korean markets outperformed on gains in Samsung.  

Broader markets were mostly rangebound in anticipation of key U.S. nonfarm payrolls data later in the day.

A U.S. market holiday on Thursday made for limited trading cues, while some cooling sentiment over interest rate cuts also factored into market caution. U.S. stock index futures moved little in Asian trade.

Chinese stocks sink as EU tariffs take effect

Chinese stocks were the worst performers for the day, with the Shanghai Shenzhen CSI 300 and Shanghai Composite indexes losing over 1% each. Both indexes extended a slump seen through most of June and early-July.

European Union tariffs on Chinese electric vehicle imports- with some companies seeing tariffs as high as 38%- took effect from Friday, as China and the EU failed to reach a deal to lower or delay the proposed duties. The move ramped up concerns over a trade war with the West, especially after Beijing flagged such a possibility in response to the tariffs.

Friday’s losses were also driven by concerns over increased tensions between China and Taiwan, after reports said China had seized a Taiwanese fishing trawler operating near the Chinese coast. Reports on Friday also said that Chinese military aircraft were in the Taiwan strait. 

Losses in mainland stocks pulled Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index down 0.8%. 

South Korean stocks outperform as Samsung flags bumper Q2 

South Korea’s KOSPI was the best performer in Asia on Friday, rising nearly 1%.

The index was boosted by a 1.5% rise in Samsung Electronics Co Ltd (KS:005930), the largest stock in the country, after the electronics conglomerate flagged a 15-fold spike in its second quarter profit.

Samsung benefited greatly from increased demand for memory chips from the artificial intelligence industry, which pushed up sales and also improved margins. Its consumer electronics business was also seen benefiting somewhat from AI integration.

Gains in Samsung spilled over into other chipmaking stocks. Memory chips rival SK Hynix Inc (KS:000660) rose 1.7%.

Japanese stocks test record highs amid weak yen, BOJ bets 

Japan’s Nikkei 225 and TOPIX indexes steadied near record highs on Friday, with the latter briefly hitting record levels. 

Recent strength in Japanese markets was driven by export-oriented stocks surging against a weaker yen, while the prospect of limited monetary tightening by the Bank of Japan also boosted sentiment.

Household spending data read substantially softer than expected for May on Friday, furthering the notion that the Japanese economy remained fragile and will need more monetary support. This in turn furthered bets that the BOJ has limited headroom to tighten policy further, keeping in place most of the ultra-loose monetary conditions enjoyed by Japanese markets for nearly a decade. 

Japanese tech stocks also tracked gains in Samsung. Investment giant SoftBank Group Corp. (TYO:9984) rose 0.4% and sat at record highs as a report said the firm was seeking large volumes of chips from NVIDIA Corporation (NASDAQ:NVDA). 

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