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Asian Shares Mostly Lower On Trade War Worries

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Asian stocks ended mostly lower on Tuesday after China announced tariffs on about $60 billion worth of U.S. goods in retaliation for the U.S. decision to raise tariffs on about $200 billion worth of Chinese imports.

The office of U.S. Trade Representative is taking necessary steps to raise duties of up to 25 percent on a further $300 billion worth of imports from China, with a public hearing likely on June 17, followed by at least a week of discussions leading up to the G20 summit.

China's Shanghai Composite Index fluctuated before ending the session down 20.10 points or 0.7 percent at 2,883.61. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index slumped 428.22 points or 1.5 percent to 28,122.02.

Japanese shares hit a three-month low as investors remained fearful of a full-blown trade war. The Nikkei 225 Index ended down 124.05 points or 0.6 percent at 21,067.23 after falling as low as 20,751.45, the lowest since mid-February. The broader Topix index closed 0.4 percent lower at 1,534.98 after hitting over a four-month low in initial trade.

Nissan Motor lost 3 percent on a Nikkei report that the automaker will likely experience its fourth straight year of decreasing profits in the financial year through March 2020.

Mazda Motor fell a little over 2 percent, Subaru Corp declined 2.3 percent and Isuzu Motors plunged 16 percent. China-related stocks such as Komatsu and Yaskawa Electric rebounded from a recent string of losses amid short covering.

In economic news, Japan posted a current account surplus of 2,847.9 billion yen in March, official data showed, down 10.6 percent from last year. That missed forecasts for a surplus of 3,007.2 billion but was still up from 2,676.8 billion in February.

The trade balance showed a surplus of 700.1 billion yen, also missing expectations for 838.9 billion yen but up from 489.2 billion yen in the previous month.

Australian shares tumbled to a one-month low after China announced retaliatory tariffs on import of American products.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index pared some losses to end the session down 57.70 points or 0.9 percent at 6,239.90, while the broader All Ordinaries Index slid 54.10 points or 0.9 percent to 6,327.20.

Financials fell for the second straight day, with National Australia Bank plunging 4.7 percent as shares traded ex-dividend. ANZ and Commonwealth Bank fell over 1 percent, while Westpac Banking Corp. shed 0.8 percent. Asset manager IOOF Holdings lost 6 percent.

Miners ended mixed despite a sharp drop in base metal prices. Heavyweight BHP dropped 1.1 percent, while Fortescue Metals Group soared 7.4 percent.

Gold miners surged as gold prices steadied near one-month high. Evolution Mining spiked 7.2 percent, Newcrest Mining advanced 1.8 percent and Northern Star Resources climbed 4.3 percent.

On the data front, Australia business conditions weakened in April, while confidence edged up slightly from March but remained well below average, survey data from the National Australia Bank showed.

Seoul stocks inched higher on institutional buying after the local markets hit a nearly four-month low the previous day. The benchmark Kospi crept up 2.83 points or 0.1 percent to 2,081.84.

New Zealand shares fell notably, with the benchmark S&P/NZX 50 Index ending down 56.48 points or 0.6 percent at 10,070.35. Infratil tumbled 2.6 percent on equity dilution worries after it announced the acquisition of Vodafone New Zealand.

Kathmandu Holdings declined 1.8 percent after the outdoor clothing and equipment retailer appointed Chris Kinraid as its chief financial officer, splitting the previously combined roles of CFO and chief operating officer.

Overnight, the Dow plunged 2.4 percent to a three-month closing low, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite plummeted 3.4 percent and the S&P 500 tumbled 2.4 percent to their lowest closing levels in over a month.

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