EU tariffs, US-EU trade, currencies and oil

Stocks in Asia were set to trade lower Thursday on fresh trade concerns, with the U.S. announcing it’s set to slap tariffs on European Union goods.Futures pointed to a lower open for Japanese shares, with the Nikkei futures contract in Chicago at 21,440 and its counterpart in Osaka at 21,370. The Nikkei 225 last closed at 21,778.61.Stocks in Australia were also set to slip at the open. The SPI futures contract was at 6,493.0, as compared to the S&P/ASX 200’s last close at 6,639.90. Investors will watch out for Australian trade data in August, set to be released at around 9:30 a.m. HK/SIN. Asia-Pacific Market Indexes ChartMeanwhile, a new battle on the trade front could rattle markets again, as the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative said it will impose tariffs on European Union goods on October 18. That comes on top of the ongoing trade war between Beijing and Washington, with Chinese and U.S. officials scheduled to meet in Washington next week. The tariff fight between the two largest economies has lasted for more than a year with seemingly no end in sight.Worries have also grown over the prospect of an economic slowdown in the U.S. Manufacturing activity in the U.S. contracted to its worst level in more than a decade, according to a Tuesday report from the Institute for Supply Management (ISM). A September private payrolls report also showed a slowing pace of U.S. hiring.Meanwhile, Hong Kong retail sales in August plunged to its lowest on record, according to its government on Wednesday. That comes as the sector has been hit by protracted protests in the city that have lasted for months.Markets in China and South Korea are closed on Thursday for holidays.Overnight stateside, the Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged 494.42 points to close at 26,078.68. The S&P 500 shed 1.8% to end its trading day on Wall Street at 2,887.61 while the Nasdaq Composite closed 1.6% lower at 7,785.25.CurrenciesThe U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was last at 99.019 after declining from levels above 99.3 yesterday.The Japanese yen traded at 107.18 per dollar after strengthening from levels above 107.5 in the previous session. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.6706 after bouncing from levels below $0.67 yesterday.What’s on tap:Japan: Purchasing Managers’ Index composite for September at 8:30 a.m. HK/SINSingapore: Purchasing Managers’ Index for September at 8:30 a.m. HK/SINAustralia: Merchandise trade for August at 9:30 a.m. HK/SIN— CNBC’s Fred Imbert contributed to this report.

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