The S&P/ASX 200 gave up early gains to trade lower by 0.13 percent. The energy and utilities led losses, losing 1.41 percent and 1.13 percent, respectively, while the heavily weighted financials sector recorded slight gains.
In its monetary policy statement, the Reserve Bank of Australia said growth was likely to come in above 3 percent in 2018 and 2019. It also noted that inflation “is likely to be a bit lower in the near term.”
Chinese equities were in positive territory, extending the sharp gains made in the previous session. The Shanghai Composite was nearly flat at 0.13 percent in morning trade and the smaller Shenzhen Composite rose 0.52 percent. Still, the Shanghai benchmark was in bear market territory at the end of the last session.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index, meanwhile, was down 0.18 percent, even though property and construction stocks initially rose, leading the morning’s advance.
MSCI’s index of shares in Asia Pacific excluding Japan was lower by 0.33 percent in Asia morning trade.
That followed the mixed session seen stateside on Thursday. Major U.S. indexes traded flat for most of the day before slipping late in the session as investors focused on this quarter’s strong earnings. Nearly 90 percent of S&P 500 companies have reported quarterly results so far.
Trade concerns have also been in the spotlight, with China announcing earlier this week that it would retaliate against recent U.S. tariffs. The Chinese Ministry of Commerce announced Wednesday a 25 percent tariff on $16 billion in U.S. goods, a move that came after the U.S. Trade Representative’s office said duties on $16 billion in Chinese imports would take effect on Aug. 23.
The Nasdaq Composite notched its eighth consecutive positive session, finishing the day higher by 0.04 percent at 7,891.78. That was the tech-heavy index’s longest win streak this year. Other major U.S. indexes finished the session slightly lower.
European markets were also mixed overnight, with the pan-European Stoxx 600 edging 0.1 percent higher. Asian markets, meanwhile, closed mostly higher on Thursday.