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Asian Shares Mostly Higher Ahead Of Chinese Data

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Asian stocks ended broadly higher on Friday even as underlying sentiment remained cautious ahead of Chinese data and amid fresh worries over U.S.-China trade tensions.

U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday accused China of backsliding on its promises to increase purchases of American farm products.

Chinese shares ended higher as investors awaited a slew of key data for directional cues. The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index rose 12.79 points or 0.4 percent to 2,930.55 ahead of trade and lending data due out later in the day and second-quarter GDP figures scheduled for Monday. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index inched up 39.82 points or 0.1 percent to 28,471.62.

Japanese shares edged higher in choppy trading ahead of a holiday on Monday and quarterly earnings results from U.S. and Japanese companies next week.

The Nikkei 255 Index edged up 42.37 points or 0.2 percent to 21,685.90, while the broader Topix closed 0.2 percent lower at 1,576.31.

Fast Retailing rallied 3.2 percent after its group net profit in the nine months to May rose 7.0 percent from a year earlier. Lawson, a convenience franchise chain, jumped 4.6 percent on strong first quarter results.

On the flip side, Yaskawa Electric tumbled 3.9 percent after reporting a 58 percent slump in its operating profit for the March-May quarter. Fanuc declined 2 percent and Keyence shed 1.5 percent.

Australian markets ended modestly lower on worries that renewed U.S.-China trade tensions will hurt the global economy.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index dropped 19.60 points or 0.3 percent to 6,696.50, while the broader All Ordinaries Index ended down 17 points or 0.3 percent at 6,788.80.

Mining stocks accounted for most losses as investors awaited Chinese trade data for clues on whether the world's second-largest economy continued to weaken. BHP, Rio Tinto and South32 ended down between 0.6 percent and 0.9 percent.

Gold miners Evolution, Newcrest, Regis Resources and St Barbara also fell 1-3 percent as gold prices eased on dollar strength.

Meanwhile, Oil Search rallied 3.5 percent on reports that Santos could be looking at staging a takeover of its rival. Santos shares rose 0.6 percent.

In economic news, Australia's lending to households declined in May, data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed. Lending for investment dwellings decreased 1.7 percent from the previous month. Economists had forecast a 0.5 percent increase.

Seoul stocks extended gains for the third straight day on the back of foreign buying after the U.S. Federal Reserve signaled it is prepared to start cutting rates. The Kospi rose 6.08 points or 0.3 percent to 2,086.66.

New Zealand shares ended slightly higher amid renewed prospects for deeper rate cuts in the U.S. The benchmark S&P/NZX 50 Index crept up 14.11 points or 0.1 percent to 10,701.43.

The manufacturing sector in New Zealand continued to expand in June, and at a faster rate, the latest survey from BusinessNZ revealed today with a manufacturing PMI score of 51.3, up from 50.4 in May.

Singapore's Straits Times Index ticked up 0.2 percent despite GDP data for the second quarter coming in far below expectations.

U.S. stocks ended mixed overnight after the Trump administration backed down from a controversial effort to lower drug prices.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 0.9 percent to close above 27,000 for the first time ever and the S&P 500 gained 0.2 percent to reach fresh record closing high, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq edged down 0.1 percent.

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