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Asian Shares Slip Ahead Of Trade Talks


Asian stocks fell on Tuesday as investors treaded cautiously ahead of a meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the G20 summit starting later this week in Osaka, Japan.

Worries about U.S.-Iran tensions also weighed on the markets as Trump imposed new sanctions on Iran following last week's downing of an unmanned U.S. surveillance drone.

China's Shanghai Composite Index slid 26.07 points or 0.9 percent to 2,982.07, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index tumbled 327.02 points or 1.2 percent to 28,185.98.

Japanese shares retreated as the yen rose to a nearly six-month high versus the dollar and media reports suggested Trump is considering pulling out from a six-decade-old defense treaty with Japan.

The Nikkei 225 Index ended down 92.18 points or 0.4 percent at 21,193.81, while the broader Topix closed 0.3 percent lower at 1,543.49.

Automakers fell broadly, with Honda Motor, Toyota Motor and Mazda Motor falling between 0.6 percent and 1.2 percent. Sony, Tokyo Electron and Advantest lost 2-3 percent as another flare-up in U.S.-Iran tensions boosted demand for safe-havens such as the yen and gold.

On the data front, minutes from the Bank of Japan's April meeting revealed that "many members" recognized the "high uncertainties" regarding the economic outlook and prices.

Some members suggested clarifications on the forward guidance with the aim of strengthening public confidence in the central bank's monetary easing stance.

Australian markets fluctuated before finishing modestly lower, dragged down by banks. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index dipped 7.40 points or 0.1 percent to 6,658.00, while the broader All Ordinaries Index ended down 11 points or 0.2 percent at 6,734.50.

Higher commodity prices helped lift miners, with BHP edging up 0.1 percent and Rio Tinto adding 0.6 percent.

Gold miners surged as the precious metal hit a six-year high. Evolution Mining rose about 1 percent, Saracen Mineral Holdings jumped over 6 percent and St Barbara rallied 5.5 percent.

The big four banks fell between 0.2 percent and 0.8 percent. Insurance Australia Group edged up slightly after saying it has held talks about selling its 26 percent stake in Indian insurer SBI General.

Seoul stocks ended lower, with technology and pharmaceutical stocks pacing the declines ahead of key trade talks between the U.S. and China. The Kospi dropped 4.69 points or 0.2 percent to 2,121.64.

LG Electronics fell 1.2 percent, while its display-making affiliate LG Display declined 1.4 percent. Samsung BioLogics shares tumbled 2.6 percent.

South Korean consumer confidence fell to a five-month low in June, survey data from Bank of Korea showed today. The consumer sentiment index fell to 97.5 from 97.9 in May.

Meanwhile, New Zealand shares hit a record high as trade data topped forecasts. New Zealand posted a merchandise trade surplus of NZ$264 million in May, Statistics New Zealand said in a report. That beat forecasts for a surplus of NZ$250 million following the NZ$433 million surplus in April.

The benchmark NZX-50 index ended up 29.98 points or 0.3 percent at 10,418.29, led by utilities such as Contact Energy.

U.S. stocks ended mixed overnight as investors turned their focus to upcoming trade talks between the U.S. and China and Trump announced new sanctions on Iran.

The Dow inched up marginally, while the S&P 500 slipped 0.2 percent and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite shed 0.3 percent.

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