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Asian Markets Mixed As U.S.-China Trade Tensions Weigh

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Asian stock markets are mixed on Thursday despite the positive cues overnight from Wall Street after media reports indicated U.S. President Donald Trump plans to delay imposing the auto tariffs by up to six months.

Worries about U.S.-China trade tensions continued to weigh on investor sentiment on news that Trump has signed an executive order declaring a national emergency and prohibiting U.S. companies from using foreign information or communications technology and services deemed a national security risk. The move is seen as appearing to target Chinese tech giant Huawei.

The Australian market opened higher following the overnight gains on Wall Street. In addition, data showing an increase in Australia's unemployment rate for the month of April raised expectations of an interest rate cut by the Reserve Bank of Australia.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is adding 11.70 points or 0.19 percent to 6,295.90, after rising to a high of 6,299.80 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is up 14.20 points or 0.22 percent to 6,385.10. Australian shares closed higher on Wednesday.

Oil stocks are higher after crude oil prices rose overnight. Oil Search and Woodside Petroleum are rising almost 1 percent each, while Santos is higher by more than 1 percent.

Gold miners are also higher after gold prices edged up overnight. Evolution Mining is rising 0.6 percent and Newcrest Mining is advancing almost 1 percent.

Among the major miners, Fortescue Metals is advancing almost 2 percent and Rio Tinto is up 0.1 percent, while BHP Group is down 0.2 percent.

Meanwhile, the big four banks are mixed. ANZ Banking is adding 0.5 percent and Commonwealth Bank is up 0.2 percent, while National Australia Bank is down 0.6 percent and Westpac is declining almost 1 percent. Shares of Westpac are trading ex-dividend.

Xero reported an underlying loss for the full year that narrowed sharply from last year, while operating revenue grew 36 percent. The New Zealand-based accounting software company's shares are gaining more than 9 percent.

Blackmores said its managing director for Australia and New Zealand, David Fenlon, has quit the company to become CEO of natural beauty product manufacturer BWX. The supplement maker's shares are losing 1 percent.

CSR has appointed Goodman Fielder managing director Julie Coates as its new chief executive and managing director, replacing Rob Sindel, who is retiring. The construction materials company's shares are up 0.7 percent.

CSL said it has appointed Paul McKenzie, the former executive vice president of U.S. biotech company Biogen, as its chief operating officer. The biotech company's shares are edging up 0.1 percent.

On the economic front, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said that the jobless rate in Australia came in at a seasonally adjusted 5.2 percent in April. That exceeded forecasts for 5.0 percent and up from the upwardly revised 5.1 percent in March.

The Australian economy added 28,400 jobs last month to 12,822,900 - topping expectations for an increase of 15,000 following the upwardly revised gain of 27,700 a month earlier.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar is lower against the U.S dollar on Thursday. The local currency was quoted at $0.6922, down from $0.6930 on Wednesday.

The Japanese market is declining despite the positive cues from Wall Street as worries about trade tensions continued to weigh on investor sentiment.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is losing 185.39 points or 0.87 percent to 21,003.17, after touching a low of 20,951.67 earlier. Japanese shares rose on Wednesday to snap a seven-day losing streak.

The major exporters are lower on a stronger yen. Sony is losing more than 2 percent, while Panasonic and Mitsubishi Electric are declining more than 1 percent each. Canon is down 0.6 percent.

Shares of Japan Display are losing 8 percent after the supplier for tech giant Apple reported a ninth consecutive quarterly loss and also said it will cut about 1,000 jobs.

Among tech stocks, Advantest is losing almost 5 percent and Tokyo Electron is declining more than 2 percent. In the auto space, Toyota is lower by more than 1 percent and Honda is losing almost 1 percent despite news that Trump plans to delay auto tariffs.

Among the major banks, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is lower by more than 3 percent and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is down almost 1 percent.

In the oil sector, Inpex is declining more than 2 percent and Japan Petroleum is losing more than 1 percent despite higher crude oil prices.

Among the other major gainers, Kajima Corp. is rising more than 4 percent, while Sumitomo Dainippon and NH Foods are higher by more than 3 percent each.

On the flip side, Dentsu is losing more than 8 percent, T&D Holdings is lower by more than 7 percent and Taiyo Yuden is declining more than 6 percent.

On the economic front, the Bank of Japan said that producer prices in Japan were up 0.3 percent on month in April, unchanged from the previous two months. On a yearly basis, producer prices climbed 1.2 percent - easing from 1.3 percent in the previous month.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the mid 109 yen-range on Thursday.

Elsewhere in Asia, Shanghai, New Zealand, Hong Kong and Taiwan are higher, while South Korea, Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia are lower.

On Wall Street, stocks closed higher on Wednesday, reflecting a positive reaction to reports President Donald Trump plans to delay imposing steep tariffs on auto imports. Media reports indicated Trump plans to delay imposing the auto tariffs by up to six months in order to allow negotiations to continue.

The Dow rose 115.97 points or 0.5 percent to 25,648.02, the Nasdaq jumped 87.65 points or 1.1 percent to 7,822.15 and the S&P 500 climbed 16.55 points or 0.6 percent to 2,850.96.

The major European markets also moved to the upside on Wednesday. While the French CAC 40 Index climbed by 0.6 percent, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index and the German DAX Index advanced by 0.8 percent and 0.9 percent, respectively.

Crude oil prices rose on Wednesday. WTI crude oil for June delivery added $0.24 to close at $62.02 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

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