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Asian Shares Mixed On Trade Worries

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Asian stocks turned in a mixed performance on Thursday amid renewed trade tensions after U.S. President Donald Trump said that the current structure used in trade talks with China was "too hard to get done."

Investor optimism over the dovish Fed minutes was tempered by news reports that the U.S. is considering imposing new duties on automobile imports.

Chinese stocks extended losses after falling the most in a month in the previous session. The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index dropped 14.07 points or 0.4 percent to 3,154.89, although Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index rose 94.77 points or 0.3 percent to 30,760.41.

Japanese shares fell, led by automakers on worries about new tariffs after the U.S. launched a national security probe into car and truck imports.

The Nikkei 225 Index lost 252.73 points or 1.1 percent to finish at 22,437.01, the lowest closing level since May 9th. The broader Topix Index closed down 1.2 percent at 1,775.65.

Nissan Motor, Toyota Motor, Honda Motor and Mazda Motor tumbled 2-5 percent. Banks also fell, with Sumitomo Mitsui Financial, Mizuho Financial and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial ending down 1-2 percent.

Australian shares closed little changed as banks extended recent losses amid the ongoing Royal Commission enquiry into the sector. Both the S&P/ASX 200 Index and the All Ordinaries Index closed marginally higher at 6,037.10 and 6,144.10, respectively.

Banks ANZ, Commonwealth and NAB ended down between 0.3 percent and 0.4 percent. Lower iron ore and copper price weighed on the mining sector, with Rio Tinto and South32 losing about 1 percent each.

Origin Energy shed half a percent after the oil & gas producer agreed to sell its metering business to a company co-owned by a Swiss smart metering firm for A$267 million.

Rival Woodside Petroleum declined 0.6 percent and Oil Search dropped 1.1 percent as oil prices fell on data showing a surprise surge in U.S. crude stockpiles and amid expectations that OPEC members could step up production.

Meanwhile, poker machine maker Aristocrat Leisure soared 8 percent after reporting an increase in its first-half profits.

Seoul stocks closed modestly lower as the Bank of Korea held its benchmark interest rate steady at 1.50 percent, in line with expectations. The decision marked the third straight meeting with no move after the bank hiked rates by 25 basis points in November.

The benchmark Kospi dropped 5.90 points or 0.2 percent to 2,466.01. Hyundai Motor tumbled 3.1 percent and Kia Motors gave up 2.8 percent after reports that the Trump administration is weighing new tariffs of up to 25 percent on auto imports.

New Zealand shares rose as a2 Milk shares recovered from recent string of losses. While the benchmark index S&P/NZX 50 index gained 37.54 points or 0.4 percent to finish at 8,590.77, a2 Milk Company shares surged 4.1 percent to snap a four-day losing streak.

New Zealand posted a merchandise trade surplus of NZ$263 million in April, Statistics New Zealand said today - representing 5.2 percent of exports and exceeding forecasts for a NZ$198 million surplus.

Singapore's Straits Times index was up 0.8 percent after a government report showed the country's GDP growth accelerated more than initially estimated in the first quarter. GDP grew 4.4 percent year-over-year in the March quarter, just above the 4.3 percent rise seen in the flash estimate published on April 13.

India's Sensex was up 0.7 percent, the Taiwan Weighted rose half a percent and Indonesia's Jakarta Composite index was up as much as 2.5 percent, while Malaysia's KLSE Composite index was declining 1.5 percent.

Overnight, U.S. stocks closed higher after the minutes of the latest Federal Reserve meeting suggested higher inflation may not result in faster interest rate hikes.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average inched up 0.2 percent, the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite gained 0.6 percent and the S&P 500 added 0.3 percent.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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