Japan leads declines amid broad slip in Asian stocks

Stocks in Asia were broadly lower on Friday, with Japanese equities leading the fall.

The Nikkei 225 fell 1.11 percent on the day as it closed at 20,166.19, while the Topix index declined by 1.91 percent to finish its trading week at 1,488.19. The benchmark Nikkei 225 dropped more than 2.5 percent in the previous trading session.

Shares of Japanese banks fell on the back of the Bank of Japan’s decision on Thursday to keep interest rate targets unchanged. Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group shed 2.22 percent while Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group dropped 2.21 percent. Japanese banks have suffered as a result of the central bank’s loose monetary policy, which has had the side effect of impacting the revenues of the country’s lenders.

Over in South Korea, the Kospi recovered from earlier losses to close slightly higher at 2,061.49 — up 0.07 percent.

In Australia, the ASX 200 lost its earlier gains to close 0.69 percent lower at 5,467.6, with most sectors slipping. Shares of the country’s so-called Big Four banks declined, with Australia and New Zealand Banking Group, Westpac and National Australia Bank all seeing declines of at least 1 percent.

Chinese hackers charged

The mainland Chinese markets, closely watched in relation with Beijing’s trade spat with Washington, slipped on the day. The Shanghai compositedeclined by 0.79 percent to close at around 2,516.25 and the Shenzhen composite lost 0.959 percent to end its trading week at about 1,284.66.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index recovered from its earlier losses to trade up by about 0.32 percent, as of its final hour of trade.

On Thursday, the U.S. Justice Department announced charges against two Chinese nationals for being part of a global hacking campaign. The two individuals, Zhu Hua and Zhang Shilong, are charged with conspiring to commit computer intrusions and wire fraud, as well as aggravated identity theft. It was part of campaigns that lasted for years, as they sought to steal from several foreign governments and dozens of companies. The two men remain at large.

Prosecutors also accused the two of operating in conjunction with the Chinese government.

“China will find it difficult to pretend that it is not responsible for this action,” Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said at a press conference.

“I think it’s important to see these accusations as just the latest, really, in a series of moves by the Trump administration in recent months to frankly, apply more pressure to China across the board,” Michael Fuchs, senior fellow at Center for American Progress, told CNBC’s “Squawk Box” on Friday.

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