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Asian Shares Move Mostly Higher As Investors Eye G20 Meeting


Asian stocks rose broadly in cautious trading on Monday amid a backdrop of rising trade and geopolitical tensions. While hopes of Fed rate cuts and a U.S.-China trade deal offered some support, tensions in the Middle East kept investors on edge.

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Sunday he was not looking for war with Tehran and is prepared to seek a deal to bolster Iran's flagging economy in an apparent move to defuse tensions.

But U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said "significant" sanctions on Iran would be announced as early as Monday aimed at further choking off resources that Tehran uses to fund its activities in the region.

Chinese stocks finished modestly higher after the state-run Xinhua news agency gave the first official confirmation of President XI Jinping's attendance at the G20 summit in Osaka, where he is expected to meet U.S. President Donald Trump.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index rose 6.17 points or 0.2 percent to 3,008.15, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index inched up 39.29 points or 0.1 percent to 28,513.

Japanese stocks fluctuated before ending on a positive note. The Nikkei 225 Index crept up 27.35 points or 0.1 percent to 21,285.99, while the broader Topix closed 0.1 percent higher at 1,547.74.

Exporters ended mixed as the dollar fell against the yen on bets the Federal Reserve will start lowering interest rates. Tokyo Electron declined 1.7 percent and TDK Corp shed 0.8 percent, while Sony advanced 1.8 percent and Honda Motor added 0.7 percent.

Australian markets finished modestly higher as investors looked ahead to this week's G20 summit. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index rose 14.60 points or 0.2 percent to 6,665.40, while the broader All Ordinaries Index ended up 11.20 points or 0.2 percent at 6,745.50.

Miners ended broadly higher, showing modest gains despite a strong Aussie dollar. Australia's second-biggest lender Westpac Banking Group gained 0.4 percent after announcing it would overhaul how it calculates executive bonuses. The other three big banks rose between 0.3 percent and 0.6 percent.

Ausdrill soared 10.5 percent after its subsidiary won a five-year, A$800 million underground mining services contract from Khoemacau Copper Mining at a Botswana mine.

Meanwhile, retirement home operator Aveo Group slumped 5.3 percent after a warning that weak property markets will dent its full-year 2019 profits.

Grocery wholesaler Metcash plummeted almost 10 percent after its underlying earnings declined 3 percent due to lower food earnings and higher finance costs.

Seoul stocks closed higher on the back of gains by technology companies and automakers. The Kospi ended marginally higher at 2,126.33. SK Hynix rose 1.5 percent and Hyundai Motor gained 1.4 percent.

New Zealand shares advanced, with the benchmark S&P/NZX 50 Index ending up 61.02 points or 0.6 percent at 10,388.31, led by gains by consumer staple and energy stocks.

On the other hand, Singapore's Straits Times Index fell 0.3 percent after four straight sessions of gains. Indonesia's Jakarta Composite Index also slid 0.4 percent after the release of trade data.

U.S. stocks ended modestly lower on Friday after the Commerce Department barred five additional Chinese companies from buying U.S. components without approval.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 slipped around 0.1 percent, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite shed 0.2 percent.

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