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Asian Shares Mostly Lower As Trade Worries Weigh


Asian stocks ended broadly lower on Friday as investors fretted about rising trade tensions between the U.S. and China as well as the new set of U.S. sanctions on Russia. A diplomatic rift between the U.S. and Turkey also kept underlying sentiment cautious.

Chinese shares posted their best weekly gains in a month, with technology companies leading the surge after China revamped a national leadership group charged with planning and studying its key technological development strategies.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite index ended flat at 2,795.31, but ended the week up by 2 percent. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index, however, dropped 0.84 percent to 28,366.62.

Japanese shares fell sharply to hit one-month low, with a firmer yen and heavy selling in the technology sector weighing on markets. The Nikkei average fell by 300.31 points or 1.33 percent to 22,298.08, the lowest closing level since July 12. The broader Topix index closed 1.15 percent lower at 1,720.16.

The yen rose against the dollar as trade worries persisted and data showed the country's economy grew more than expected in the second quarter, driven by higher consumer spending and business investment.

Japan's GDP expanded a seasonally adjusted 0.5 percent sequentially in the second quarter of 2018, the Cabinet Office said in a preliminary reading. That exceeded expectations for an increase of 0.3 percent following the 0.2 percent loss in the three months prior.

Tokyo Electron lost 3.6 percent, Advantest Corp slumped 4.9 percent and Sumco Corp retreated 4.7 percent after Morgan Stanley downgraded its view on the U.S. chip sector. Fujifilm Holdings rallied 3.5 percent after announcing a share buyback.

Australian shares fell modestly as energy stocks retreated and building materials supplier James Hardie Industries forecast adjusted net operating profit for fiscal 2019 that fell slightly below expectations.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index dropped 19.30 points or 0.31 percent to 6,278.40 while the broader All Ordinaries index ended down 16.80 points or 0.26 percent at 6,366.80.

Energy stocks Santos, Oil Search, Origin Energy and Beach Energy fell 2-4 percent. Australia's biggest power producer AGL Energy declined 2.3 percent to extend Thursday's losses.

Mining heavyweight Rio Tinto gave up 0.8 percent on going ex-dividend, while rival BHP Billiton eased 0.7 percent. Banks ANZ, NAB and Westpac rose between 0.3 percent and half a percent.

Seoul stocks closed lower amid heavy selling in large-cap technology shares by foreign and institutional investors. The benchmark Kospi ended down 20.92 points or 0.91 percent at 2,282.79.

Market heavyweight Samsung Electronics tumbled 3.2 percent to snap a five-day winning streak while chipmaker SK Hynix gave up 3.7 percent.

New Zealand shares rose notably, with the benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index closing up 70.42 points or 0.79 percent at 9,010.61 after credit card spending and manufacturing data painted a positive picture of the economy.

Fonterra Co-operative Group shares fell 2.4 percent after the world's biggest dairy exporter cut its milk-price forecast for 2017/18 and said it won't pay farmers and investors a second-half dividend.

U.S. stocks ended mixed overnight for a second straight session as investors weighed lingering trade war concerns against largely upbeat corporate earnings news. The Dow dropped 0.3 percent and the S&P 500 slid 0.1 percent while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite inched up marginally.

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