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Asian Shares Mixed As Trump Ramps Up Trade War Rhetoric


Asian stocks closed lower on Monday amid trade worries after U.S. President Donald Trump threatened to slap tariffs on all of the Chinese goods imported into the United States and expressed displeasure about his country's large trade deficit with Japan.

A report showed China's trade surplus with the U.S. widened to a record in August, adding to the trade tensions.

While a strong U.S. jobs report supported the dollar, oil prices rose after data showed U.S. energy companies cut two oil rigs last week.

Chinese and Hong Kong shares fell sharply on fears of more U.S. tariffs after Trump on Friday threatened to impose tariffs on additional $267 billion, in addition to the proposed 25 percent duty to be levied on $200 billion of Chinese goods.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite index tumbled 32.82 points or 1.21 percent to 2,669.48 while Hong Kong's Hang Seng index lost 1.33 percent to end at 26,613.42.

On the data front, consumer prices in China were up 2.3 percent year-on- year in August, the National Bureau of Statistics said. That exceeded expectations for 2.1 percent, which would have been unchanged from the July reading.

The bureau also said that producer prices jumped an annual 4.1 percent. That also topped forecasts for 4.0 percent and was down from 4.6 percent in the previous month.

Japanese shares snapped a six-day losing streak as upbeat revised GDP data and a slightly weaker yen helped investors shrug off trade worries.

Japan's gross domestic product climbed an annual 3.0 percent in the second quarter of 2018, the Cabinet Office said. That beat forecasts for 2.6 percent and was up from the previous reading of 1.9 percent. On an annualized seasonally adjusted basis, GDP added 0.7 percent - unchanged and in line with expectations.

Another report revealed that Japan had a current account surplus of 2,009.7 billion yen in July, exceeding expectations for a surplus of 1,893.2 billion yen and up from 1,175.6 billion yen in June. The trade balance showed a deficit of 1.0 billion yen.

The Nikkei average rose 66.03 points or 0.30 percent to 22,373.09 while the broader Topix index closed 0.20 percent higher at 1,687.61.

Lender Mitsubishi UFJ Financial rose 0.6 percent, insurer Dai-ichi Life rallied 2.4 percent and JapanPost Insurance advanced 2.3 percent as U.S. bond yields edged up on expectations for a September rate hike by the Federal Reserve.

Tech shares suffered heavy losses, with Advantest losing 2.4 percent and Screen Holdings declining 2.8 percent.

Australian markets fell for the eighth straight session, though stocks ended off their day's lows in the wake of positive economic data from China. Both the S&P/ASX200 index and the broader All Ordinaries index finished marginally lower at 6,141.70 and 6,249.70, respectively.

Mining heavyweights BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto cut earlier losses after the release of Chinese consumer inflation and produce inflation data.

National Australia Bank shed 0.7 percent after announcing it won't hike mortgage rates. ANZ and Westpac also closed modestly lower while Commonwealth Bank edged up 0.3 percent.

Explaurum jumped 42 percent after Ramelius Resources launched a hostile bid for the gold and base metals explorer. Primary Health Care advanced 1.8 percent after announcing the acquisition of seven clinics.

Seoul stocks closed higher as foreign investors turned net buyers after last week's slump. The benchmark Kospi gained 7.08 points or 0.31 percent to finish at 2,288.66.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index dropped 46.76 points or 0.51 percent to 9,048.63, with healthcare stocks pacing the decliners. Ryman Healthcare shares fell 2.3 percent.

U.S. stocks fluctuated before closing modestly lower on Friday after President Trump suggested he might impose tariffs on virtually all imports from China. In addition, a strong jobs report for August bolstered the prospects for further rate hikes.

The Dow and the Nasdaq Composite slid around 0.3 percent while the S&P 500 inched down 0.2 percent.

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