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Asian Shares Broadly Lower In Cautious Trade


Asian stocks were broadly lower on Thursday as investors adopted a cautious stance ahead of the July 6 deadline, when U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods are due to take effect. Regional losses remained limited after China said that it "absolutely will not fire the first shot" in its trade dispute with the United States.

The dollar held flat against the yen and gold held steady ahead of minutes from the U.S. Federal Reserve's June policy meeting, due later in day while oil prices fell about half a percent after U.S. President Donald Trump sent a tweet urging OPEC to reduce prices for crude.

The United States Trade Representative (USTR) released two lists of imported Chinese products to retaliate against China's unfair trade practices.

The first set of 818 products are subject to 25 percent retaliatory duties worth more than $32 billion, while the second list covers 284 products covering $16 billion.

China has indicated it will promptly strike back with tariffs on an equal amount of U.S. goods.

China's Shanghai Composite index was moving down 0.2 percent despite the yuan holding onto overnight gains following verbal intervention by the People's Bank of China. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index was little changed.

Japan's Nikkei index was down 0.2 percent, dragged down by banks and retailers. Index heavyweight Fast Retailing dropped 1.5 percent and lender Mitsubishi UFJ Financial lost 1 percent.

Seoul stocks gave up early gains to turn lower as trade tensions simmered. The benchmark Kospi was down 0.3 percent, dragged down by technology stocks.

Australian shares bucked the weak regional trend, with the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index rising half a percent as banks and telecom stocks gained ground, offsetting losses in the mining sector.

Overnight, European markets ended largely unchanged as trade jitters continued to simmer and a public holiday in the U.S. discouraged traders from taking long positions.

The pan-European Stoxx Europe 600 index and France's CAC 40 index closed marginally higher, while the German DAX and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 dropped around 0.3 percent each.

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