By Wayne Cole
SYDNEY (Reuters) - Asian shares were subdued on Thursday after a new round of tit-for-tat tariffs in the U.S.-Sino trade conflict torpedoed oil prices, while the Russian rouble tumbled as the U.S. slapped fresh sanctions on the country.
MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan <.MIAPJ0000PUS> barely budged as caution dominated. Japan's Nikkei <.N225> slipped 0.5 percent, not helped by a shock slump in core machinery orders.
Early Thursday, China's state broadcaster said China must counteract U.S. tariffs and Beijing had the confidence to protect its own interests as well as the means to do so.
China had already announced additional tariffs of 25 percent on $16 billion worth of U.S. imports from fuel to autos. The tariffs will apply to billions of dollars in U.S. gasoline, diesel and other oil products, though not crude.
Analysts at ANZ noted there were also reports President Xi Jinping had asked China's major oil companies to increase domestic output to safeguard the country's energy security.
The oil market took the news hard with selling escalating as major technical levels broke.
On Wall Street, trade-sensitive industrial companies <.SPLRCI> were the biggest drag on the Dow, with declines led by Boeing
The Dow <.DJI> fell 0.18 percent, while the S&P 500 <.SPX> lost 0.03 percent and the Nasdaq <.IXIC> added 0.06 percent.
In currency markets, the Russian rouble sank after Washington said it would impose fresh sanctions because it had determined that Moscow had used a nerve agent against a former Russian agent and his daughter in Britain.
There were also reports of a new U.S. Senate bill that would impose widespread sanctions on Russia for election meddling.
The rouble duly slid to its lowest since late 2016, with the dollar buying 65.50 roubles
The pound skidded to its lowest against the dollar and euro in almost a year as fears grew Britain might leave the EU without a deal on trade with Brussels.
Traders reported a significant increase in investors hedging against a 'no-deal' Brexit, an event which could send sterling into free fall and hurt the economy by raising trade barriers with the UK's biggest export market.
Sterling was last trading at $1.2877
The Japanese yen seemed to be catching a bid as a traditional safe haven, with the dollar easing to 110.81 yen
The New Zealand dollar shed 0.9 percent to a two-year trough at $0.6682
The Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ) said rates were likely to be on hold for longer and cut its forecasts for economic growth this year and next.
(Editing by Shri Navaratnam)
This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.
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Updated Date: Aug 09, 2018 07:05:32 IST