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Asian Shares Tumble As Trade Tensions Escalate


Asian stocks fell across the board on Thursday as the arrest of a senior Huawei executive over potential violation of U.S. sanctions on Iran raised more questions about the Trump administration's overall China strategy.

The recent drop in U.S. 10-year Treasury yields, Brexit-related uncertainty and caution ahead of a crucial OPEC meeting also weighed on the markets.

China's Shanghai Composite Index tumbled 44.62 points or 1.7 percent to 2,605.18, as the arrest of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou dealt a blow to hopes of easing of U.S.-China trade tensions. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index plunged 663.30 points or 2.5 percent 26,156.38.

Japanese shares slumped to a more than five-week low, with chip-related stocks coming under heavy selling pressure.

The Nikkei 225 Index plummeted 417.71 points or 1.9 percent to 21,501.62, the lowest level since October 30th. The broader Topix Index closed 1.8 percent lower at 1,610.60.

Tech stocks led the declines on concerns that they might be hurt seriously in light of security concerns over Huawei. Tokyo Electron, Advantest and Sumco Corp. lost 5-7 percent.

Index heavyweight SoftBank Group nosedived 4.9 percent on news of a mobile service disruption across central Japan. Mobile phone parts maker TDK Corp slumped 6.6 percent and Anritsu Corp shed 7.4 percent.

In economic news, Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda told parliament that economic risks from abroad could be severe and the central bank would respond appropriately as needed.

Australian markets ended modestly lower to extend losses for a third straight session on trade and growth worries. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index dipped 10.70 points or 0.2 percent to 5,657.70 after declining 0.8 percent in the previous session. The broader All Ordinaries Index ended down 12.40 points or 0.2 percent at 5,736.70.

Banks ANZ and NAB lost 1-2 percent on concerns over the inversion in the yield curve. Weak base metals prices on global growth concerns pulled down miners, with BHP, Fortescue Metals Group and Rio Tinto ending down 1-2 percent.

Energy stocks also ended broadly lower as oil prices dipped ahead of an OPEC meeting to discuss cutting output.

Australia posted a seasonally adjusted merchandise trade surplus of A$2.316 billion in October, official data showed, down 21 percent from the previous month. That was shy of expectations for a surplus of A$3.0 billion.

Another report revealed that the value of retail sales in Australia rose a seasonally adjusted 0.3 percent sequentially in October, matching expectations.

Seoul stocks ended sharply lower on skepticism about the U.S.-China trade deal. The benchmark Kospi dropped 32.62 points or 1.5 percent to 2.068.69, dragged down by technology, steel and chemical stocks.

New Zealand shares gave up early gains to end slightly lower on apprehension about whether the U.S- China trade war will escalate following the arrest of a senior official at Chinese telecoms equipment maker Huawei. The benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index fell 23.31 points or 0.3 percent to 8,758.22.

U.S. markets remained closed overnight due to a national day of mourning for former U.S. President George H.W. Bush.

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