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JAKARTA (TheInsiderStories) – Asian markets closed sharply lower Friday (23/3) on fears of a potential trade war following a steep decline in U.S and Europe market.

Jakarta Composite Index (JCI) fell 0.69 per cent to 6,210.70 driven by manufacturer and various industries indices fell more than 1 per cent.

In Tokyo, Nikkei 225 fell 4.51 per cent, or 974.13 points, to close at 20,617.86 after earlier dropping to its lowest levels in more than five months. The benchmark also fell 4.88 per cent for the weel.

Meanwhile, Seoul’s benchmark Kospi index lost 3.18 percent to close at 2,416.76, as shares fell broadly. Technology names fell sharply, with heavyweight Samsung Electronics sinking 3.98 percent and SK Hynix losing 6.21 percent.

Greater China markets plunged in early trade, with Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index sinking 3.16 percent by 3:00 p.m. HK/SIN. Beyond trade tensions, the market was also weighed down by a 4.55 percent slide by 3:10 p.m.

On Friday, China urged the United States to “pull back from the brink” as President Donald Trump’s plans for tariffs on up to $60 billion in Chinese goods brought the world’s two largest economies closer to a trade war.

The escalating tensions between Beijing and Washington sent shivers through financial markets as investors foresaw dire consequences for the global economy if trade barriers start going up.

Trump had signed off on tariffs on steel and aluminum imports earlier this month, although several countries were exempt. Markets are worried that subsequent retaliatory actions from U.S. trading partners could result in a trade war.

In response, China on Friday proposed a list of 128 U.S. products as potential retaliation targets, according to a government statement.

The fact that Trump’s announcement was a proposal rather than an action on trade indicates this may be used as a negotiating tactic.

Still, others worried that the tougher talk on trade could potentially lead to more significant consequences.

Written by Elisa Valenta, email: roffien@theinsiderstories.com