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Asian Shares Mostly Lower As Trade Uncertainty Weighs


Asian stocks closed mostly lower on Tuesday amid continued uncertainty over trade after U.S. President Donald Trump expressed optimism about trade talks with China but claimed past negotiations have been one-sided in favor of Beijing. A raft of mixed economic data from China also kept investors nervous.

Japanese shares ended modestly lower as investors opted to book some profits following three consecutive sessions of gains. The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index dipped 47.84 points or 0.2 percent to 22,818.02, while the broader Topix Index closed marginally lower at 1,805.15.

Exporters ended mostly lower despite the yen declining against its major counterparts. Mitsubishi UFJ Financial advanced 1.7 percent ahead of its earnings release, and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial climbed 2.1 percent.

Australian shares closed lower as investors digested a slew of economic reports from China, Australia's largest trading partner. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index dipped 37.50 points or 0.6 percent to 6,097.80, while the broader All Ordinaries Index ended down 36.30 points or 0.6 percent at 6,198.70.

National Australia Bank fell 3.4 percent on going ex-dividend, but ANZ and Commonwealth rose 0.4 percent and 0.2 percent, respectively. Telstra slumped 5.6 percent to extend losses from the previous session after warning of tough competition.

Bluescope Steel dropped 1.4 percent despite the company raising its first-half earnings outlook by about 12 percent.

In economic news, Australian consumer confidence improved for the fifth straight time during the week ended May 13th, a weekly survey compiled by the ANZ bank and Roy Morgan Research showed.

Separately, minutes from the Reserve Bank's May 1st meeting revealed that board members still believe the cash rate's next move is more likely to be up, not down.

Seoul stocks fell notably amid selling by foreign investors. The benchmark Kospi dropped 17.57 points or 0.7 percent to 2,458.54. Market heavyweight Samsung Electronics declined 1.8 percent to extend losses for a third straight session.

Meanwhile, China's Shanghai Composite Index rose 18.09 points or 0.6 percent to 3,192.12 as optimism towards MSCI inclusion of 234 China-listed shares helped investors shrug off renewed trade tensions and mixed economic readings. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index slumped 389.05 points or 1.2 percent to 31,152.03 following a six-day rally.

Chinese industrial output grew 7.0 percent year-on-year in April, the National Bureau of Statistics said. That topped expectations for an increase of 6.4 percent and was up from 6.0 percent in March.

Retail sales advanced an annual 9.4 percent, missing forecasts for 10.0 percent and down from 10.1 percent in the previous month. Fixed asset investment picked up 7.0 percent on year, shy of expectations for 7.4 percent and down from 7.5 percent a month earlier.

New Zealand shares fell from a record high after an MSCI index reshuffle. The benchmark S&P/NZX50 index finished marginally lower at 8,708.78, with A2 Milk, Air New Zealand and Mercury New Zealand pacing the decliners.

India's Sensex was rising 0.4 percent as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) seemed all set to form the government in Karnataka.

Indonesia's Jakarta Composite index was down as much as 1.6 percent, Singapore's Straits Times index was declining 0.3 percent and the Taiwan Weighted shed 0.7 percent, while Malaysia's KLSE Composite index was moving up 0.4 percent.

Overnight, U.S. stocks ended modestly higher as oil pushed higher, Treasury yields popped above 3 percent and trade tensions eased ahead of a second round of trade talks between the U.S. and China this week.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.3 percent while the S&P 500 and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite inched up about 0.1 percent.

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