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Asian Shares Follow Wall Street Lower

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Asian stocks finished broadly lower on Friday as uncertainty on the U.S. tax reform plan dented investor sentiment and boosted demand for safe-haven assets such as gold and the Japanese yen.

China's Shanghai Composite index inched up 4.88 points or 0.14 percent to 3,432.67 after reports that China is considering expanding corporate tax cuts for high-tech service companies. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index was marginally lower at 29,120 in late trade.

Japanese shares led regional decliners, with a stronger yen and losses in technology stocks weighing on markets. The Nikkei average fell 187.29 points or 0.82 percent to 22,681.42 while the broader Topix index closed 0.70 percent lower at 1,800.44.

Fanuc, Tokyo Electron and Advantest lost around 2 percent while Toshiba Corp plummeted 5.1 percent on equity dilution worries. Tyre maker Bridgestone Corp slumped 7.7 percent after slashing its full-year operating profit forecast.

Australian shares retreated from near 10-year highs hit in the previous session as weak commodity prices pulled down mining and energy stocks.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 dropped 20 points or 0.33 percent to finish at 6,029.40, snapping a three-day winning streak. The broader All Ordinaries index ended down 18.10 points or 0.30 percent at 6,104.30.

Miners BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto lost about 2 percent each after a reversal in Chinese iron ore futures on Thursday. Energy stocks such as Woodside Petroleum, Oil Search and Santos declined 1-3 percent.

News Corp soared 4.6 percent after the publishing arm of Rupert Murdoch's media empire reported first-quarter EBITDA that nearly doubled from last year. Online real-estate advertiser REA Group advanced 1.7 percent as it reported a 24 percent increase in September quarter earnings from core operations.

In its quarterly Statement on Monetary Policy, the Reserve Bank of Australia today projected inflation to rise slightly to 2.25 percent in the year ending December 2018 from an estimated 2 percent in the year to December 2017.

Seoul stocks closed lower amid selling by foreign investors as optimism over the prospect of U.S. tax reform faded. The benchmark Kospi shed 7.62 points or 0.30 percent to finish at 2,542.95.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P NZX-50 index dropped 46.66 points or 0.58 percent to finish at 7,974.43, with Air New Zealand and Xero ending down about 4 percent each.

Singapore's Straits Times index was marginally lower after official data showed the country's retail sales declined notably in September, defying economists' forecast for a slight increase.

Benchmark indexes in India, Indonesia and Taiwan were marginally lower while
Malaysia's KLSE Composite index was little changed with a positive bias.

U.S. stocks ended Thursday's session firmly in negative territory as technology stocks came under selling pressure and investors reacted to reports regarding the Senate version of tax reform legislation.

The Dow and the S&P 500 dropped around 0.4 percent each while the Nasdaq Composite shed 0.6 percent.

by RTT Staff Writer

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