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Asian Markets Slumping Thursday

A masked woman walks past an electronic stock board showing Japan's Nikkei 225 index at a securities firm in Tokyo Thursday, May 21, 2020. Asian stock markets are mixed after Wall Street rose amid Chinese trade tension with Washington and Australia…

Asian markets closed mostly lower Thursday as investors reacted to bad economic news from Japan, and to China’s worsening trade and diplomatic relations with Australia and the United States.

Tokyo’s benchmark Nikkei index lost 0.2 percent at its closing bell after the government announced that Japan’s exports fell 21.9 percent last month, the biggest drop since the 2008 global financial crisis. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index was down 0.4 percent in late afternoon trading, while Shanghai was 0.5 percent lower and the S&P/ASX 500 in Sydney was down 0.4 percent. Seoul closed 0.4 percent higher, and Taipei posted a 0.9 percent increase.

Monday’s major rally on global markets after news of a potential coronavirus vaccine faded after Beijing imposed massive tariffs on Australian barley imports, plus the Trump administration’s increasingly heated rhetoric against China over its initial response to the coronavirus pandemic, which was first detected late last year in Wuhan.

The Dow Jones, S&P 500 and Nasdaq are all lower in futures trading, indicating a lower opening on Wall Street Thursday.

Oil markets are in positive territory Thursday, with U.S. crude trading at $34.11 per barrel, up 1.85 percent, while Brent crude, the international benchmark, is trading at $36.29 per barrel, up 1.5 percent.