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Asian Shares Extend Losses Ahead Of U.S. Jobs Data

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Asian stocks moved mostly lower on Friday to extend recent losses as another round of U.S. tariffs on China loomed and investors looked ahead to the U.S. Labor Department's August jobs report for clues to central bank rate hikes.

Chinese shares closed modestly higher in cautious trading, as a deadline for public comment on fresh U.S. tariffs expired. The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index rose 10.71 points or 0.4 percent to 2,702.30. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index closed marginally lower at 26,973.47.

Japanese shares closed lower for the sixth straight session and the yen strengthened against the dollar as investors awaited the U.S. tariff decision and the outcome of U.S.-Canada trade talks.

Sentiment was also dented after U.S. President Trump reportedly told a columnist for the Wall Street Journal that he was "still bothered by the terms of U.S. trade with Japan."

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index tumbled 180.88 points or 0.8 percent to 22,307.06, a 2-1/2-week low. For the week, the Nikkei lost 2.4 percent to post its biggest weekly drop since mid-March. The broader Topix Index closed 0.5 percent lower at 1,684.31.

Exporters saw widespread declines, with Toyota Motor, Panasonic, Canon and Kyocera Corp losing 1-4 percent. Tech stocks such as Sumco Corp, Tokyo Electron and Advantest plunged 5-7 percent.

On the data front, a government report showed that average household spending in Japan rose 0.1 percent year-on-year year in July, coming in at 283,387 yen. That beat expectations for a decline of 0.9 percent following the 1.2 percent drop in June.

Australian markets ended lower as financial stocks extended losses for a seventh straight session and an overnight drop in oil prices pulled energy stocks lower.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index slid 16.60 points or 0.3 percent to 6,143.80, while the broader All Ordinaries Index ended down 15.50 points or 0.3 percent at 6,252.30.

Banks ANZ, NAB and Westpac slid between 0.1 percent and half a percent on concerns that rising interest rates could stifle housing demand. Alumina dropped 1.1 percent after workers at Alco's alumina and bauxite operations in Western Australia rejected a proposed labor agreement.

Woodside Petroleum, Beach Energy and Oil Search tumbled 1-2 percent after oil prices fell more than 1 percent on Thursday. Meanwhile, Domino's Pizza soared 4.5 percent amid accusations that it is underpaying employees.

In economic news, the construction sector in Australia continued to expand in August, albeit at a slower pace, the latest survey from the Australian Industry Group revealed.

Seoul stocks retreated, with tech shares falling heavily on concerns that a two-year boom in the global memory chip industry is losing steam. Lingering uncertainties over trade disputes between the United States and its key trading partners also weighed on sentiment.

The benchmark Kospi fell 6.03 points or 0.3 percent to 2,281.58. Market heavyweight Samsung Electronics lost 2.6 percent and SK Hynix slumped 3.7 percent.

New Zealand shares ended little changed, with the benchmark S&P/NZX 50 Index closing down 6.21 points at 9,095.39 ahead of the expected announcement of new U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods. Market heavyweight A2 Milk Company dropped 2.2 percent and Air New Zealand shed 1.6 percent while Synlait Milk rallied 2 percent.

Malaysian shares were little changed. The country's industrial output grew 2.6 percent year-on-year in July, faster than June's 1.1 percent increase, the Department of Statistics reported. Output was expected to climb 1.4 percent.

Overnight, U.S. stocks closed mostly lower as technology companies continued to come under selling pressure and data on private sector employment and service sector activity painted a mixed picture of the world's largest economy.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite shed 0.9 percent and the S&P 500 dropped 0.4 percent, while the Dow inched up 0.1 percent.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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