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Asian Shares Fall On Trade Truce Skepticism


Asian stocks ended broadly lower on Wednesday amid concerns over trade and worrying signals of economic health after the difference between three- and five-year U.S. Treasury yields dropped below zero. Traders were skeptical around the Trump-Xi agreement announced over the weekend.

In China, traders paid little attention to encouraging services data. The benchmark Shanghai Composite index fell 16.15 points or 0.61 percent to 2,649.81 while Hong Kong's Hang Seng index tumbled 1.62 percent to close at 26,819.68.

The services sector in China continued to expand in November, and at an accelerated rate, the latest survey from Caixin revealed with a PMI score of 53.8. That beat expectations for 50.8, which would have been unchanged from the October reading.

Japanese shares fell after a plunge on Wall Street overnight on growth and trade concerns. The Nikkei average shed 116.72 points or 0.53 percent to finish at 21,919.33, while the broader Topix index closed 0.53 percent lower at 1,640.49.

China-focused shares ended lower, with Fanuc losing 3.4 percent and Rohm declining 1.5 percent. In the tech sector, Advantest slumped 4.6 percent and Tokyo Electron shed 1.8 percent.

Drug giant Takeda rose 1.1 percent after it received shareholder approval to acquire Irish pharmaceuticals firm Shire in a deal worth around US$60 billion.

On the economic front, the latest survey from Nikkei showed that the services sector in Japan continued to expand in November, albeit at a fractionally slower pace with a PMI score of 52.3, down from 52.4 in October.

Australian markets hit a two-week low before ending off their day's lows, dragged down by banks after official data showed the economy slowed more than expected in the third quarter of 2018.

Australia's GDP grew a seasonally adjusted 0.3 percent sequentially in the last quarter, missing expectations for an increase of 0.6 percent and down from 0.9 percent in the second quarter. On a yearly basis, GDP expanded 2.8 percent - again missing forecasts for 3.3 percent and down from 3.4 percent in the three months prior.

Another report from the Australian Industry Group revealed that the service sector in Australia continued to expand in November, and at a sharply faster rate.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index ended down 44.70 points or 0.78 percent at 5,668.40 after losing 1 percent in the previous session. The broader All Ordinaries index dropped 48.40 points or 0.83 percent to 5,749.10

The big four banks fell between 0.7 percent and 1.2 percent. Mining heavyweights BHP and Rio Tinto rose modestly while energy majors Oil Search, Origin Energy, Beach Energy and Santos lost around 2 percent as oil resumed declines in Asian trade.

Rare earths miner Lynas Corp plummeted 22.4 percent after tough new conditions were announced for the company's license to operate in Malaysia.

Seoul stocks recovered some lost ground after hitting over one-week low earlier in the day. The benchmark Kospi fell over 1 percent before recouping some loss to end the session down 13.04 points or 0.62 percent at 2,101.31 on continued uncertainty over the Sino-U.S. trade war.

New Zealand shares fell sharply as a flattening Treasury yield curve and doubts about the durability of the U.S.-China trade war truce sparked worries about global growth.

The benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index dropped 84.23 points or 0.95 percent to finish at 8,781.53. Trade Me shares bucked the weak trend to end 3.1 percent higher after a second bidder emerged for the e-commerce leader.

Singapore's Straits Times index was down 0.6 percent. The country's private sector continued to expand in November, and at a faster rate, the latest survey from Nikkei showed with a PMI score of 53.8, up from 52.6 in October.

Overnight, U.S. stocks tanked as the initial euphoria generated by a truce between the U.S. and China over trade evaporated and an inverted yield curve in bond markets signaled an economic slowdown.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average tumbled 3.1 percent, the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite plummeted 3.8 percent and the S&P 500 lost 3.2 percent.

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