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Asian Shares Mixed Ahead Of U.S.-China Tariff Deadline

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Asian stocks ended on a mixed note Thursday as lingering trade war fears and a public holiday in the U.S. discouraged traders from taking long positions ahead of the July 6th deadline when the U.S. administration is due to slap tariffs on $34 billion worth of Chinese goods.

The minutes from the Federal Reserve's June meeting, due out later in the day, and Friday's U.S. jobs report were also on investors' radar.

Chinese shares fell sharply as tariff worries overshadowed positive economic data. China's private sector expanded at the fastest pace in four months in June on stronger increases across manufacturing and services, data from IHS Markit showed. The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index fell 25.15 points or 0.9 percent to 2,733.98.

Hang Kong's Hang Seng Index gave up 59.58 points or 0.2 percent to end at 28,182.09 after data from IHS Markit showed the country's private sector activity deteriorated at the steepest pace in nearly two years in June.

Japanese shares hit three-month lows as the deadline neared for the U.S. to start imposing tariffs on Chinese goods. The Nikkei 225 Index dropped 170.05 points or 0.8 percent to 21,546.99, its lowest close since April 4th. The broader Topix Index closed 1 percent lower at 1,676.20, with banks, retailers and nonferrous metal companies pacing the declines.

Index heavyweight Fast Retailing tumbled 2.5 percent. Ryohin Keikaku, which sells lifestyle goods under the "MUJI" brand, slumped 12.2 percent after unveiling financial results for the first quarter.

Mitsui Mining and Smelting plunged 4 percent and Sumitomo Metal Mining declined 3.8 percent as investors fretted about the prospect of an all-out trade war.

ANA Holdings shed 1.2 percent. The airline said it would cancel 113 domestic flights for mandatory checks to help assess possible glitches in the Rolls-Royce engines powering its Boeing 787 Dreamliners.

Meanwhile, Australian shares eked out modest gains in light trade, led by financials. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index rose 32.10 points or 0.5 percent to 6,215.50, while the broader All Ordinaries index ended up 29.20 points or 0.47 percent at 6,302.90.

The big four banks rose between half a percent and 1.2 percent. Telecom stocks also rose, with Telstra climbing 1.9 percent to extend gains for a fourth straight session.

On the flip side, mining heavyweight BHP Billiton shed 0.6 percent and Rio Tinto dropped 1.2 percent as base metal prices retreated.

Seoul stocks fell amid selling by foreign investors on brewing concerns of a full-fledged trade war between the U.S. and China. The benchmark Kospi eased 7.91 points or 0.4 percent to finish at 2,257.55.

New Zealand shares finished modestly higher, with the benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index closing up 37.21 points or 0.41 percent at 9,062.85, led by telecom stocks.

Malaysia's KLSE Composite index was moving down 0.1 percent after a government report showed Malaysia's foreign trade surplus increased less than expected in May.

India's Sensex was little changed, Indonesia's Jakarta Composite index was declining 0.2 percent and the Taiwan Weighted fell over 1 percent while Singapore's Straits Times index was rising 0.2 percent.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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