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Asian Markets Mostly Lower On U.S.-China Trade Uncertainty

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Asian stock markets, with the exception of Australia, are in negative territory on Wednesday following the weak cues overnight from Wall Street amid renewed uncertainty about U.S.-China trade talks and the near-term outlook for interest rates.

U.S. President Donald Trump said that U.S.-China trade talks still have a "long way to go" and once again threatened to impose tariffs on another $325 billion worth of Chinese goods.

The Australian market recovered after a weak start and is modestly higher on Wednesday despite the negative cues from Wall Street.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is adding 12.40 points or 0.19 percent to 6,653.40, after touching a low of 6,626.60 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is up 9.70 points or 0.14 percent to 6,745.50. Australian stocks closed marginally lower on Tuesday.

Consumer discretionary stocks are among the biggest gainers. Slater & Gordon is gaining almost 6 percent, Aristocrat Leisure is rising more than 2 percent and City Chic Collective is advancing more than 1 percent.

In the oil sector, Oil Search is losing more than 2 percent, Santos is declining more than 1 percent and Woodside Petroleum is down almost 1 percent after crude oil prices tumbled overnight.

The big four banks - ANZ Banking, National Australia Bank Commonwealth Bank and Westpac - are lower in a range of 0.2 percent to 0.4 percent.

The major miners are also mostly lower. Fortescue Metals is declining almost 1 percent and Rio Tinto is lower by 0.4 percent, while BHP Group is adding 0.2 percent.

BHP Group reported a 1 percent decline in fourth-quarter iron ore production that was hurt by a tropical cyclone in Western Australia, while full-year iron ore output was in line with the company's forecast range. The mining giant forecast higher iron ore production in fiscal 2020.

Gold miners are weak after gold prices edged lower. Evolution Mining is losing 0.7 percent and Newcrest Mining is lower by 0.5 percent.

Breville Group said it has acquired U.S. food and tech startup ChefSteps and added that the acquisition was not expected to have a material impact on its business. The kitchen appliance maker's shares are edging down 0.1 percent.

Estia Health has been hit with a class action suit that alleges the aged care provider deceived investors and breached market disclosure obligations in 2015 and 2016 by falsely assuring investors its growth strategy was "on track". The company's shares are lower by more than 1 percent.

On the economic front, Australia will see June results for the leading economic index from Westpac Bank today.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar is lower against the U.S. dollar on Wednesday. The local currency was quoted at $0.7017, compared to $0.7031 on Tuesday.

The Japanese market is extending losses from the previous session following the negative cues from Wall Street.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is declining 129.36 points or 0.60 percent to 21,405.89, after falling to a low of 21,380.55 earlier. Japanese stocks closed lower on Tuesday.

The major exporters are mostly lower despite a weaker yen. Canon is declining almost 1 percent, Panasonic is lower by 0.5 percent and Mitsubishi Electric is edging down 0.1 percent, while Sony is adding 0.3 percent.

Among tech stocks, Advantest and Tokyo Electron are lower by more than 1 percent each.

In the auto space, Honda Motor is declining more than 1 percent and Toyota Motor is down 0.3 percent. In the oil sector, Inpex is losing almost 1 percent and Japan Petroleum is lower by more than 1 percent after crude oil prices tumbled overnight.

Market heavyweight SoftBank is losing almost 4 percent and Fast Retailing is declining 0.6 percent.

Among the other major gainers, Toyobo Co. is rising almost 2 percent, while Kawasaki Heavy Industries and Hitachi Zosen are advancing more than 1 percent each.

On the flip side, Shiseido Co., Haseko Corp. and Sumco Corp. are lower by almost 3 percent each.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the lower 108 yen range on Wednesday.

Elsewhere in Asia, South Korea is declining almost 1 percent, while Shanghai, Singapore, New Zealand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Hong Kong and Taiwan are also lower.

On Wall Street, stocks fluctuated over the course of the trading day on Tuesday before closing modestly lower. Selling pressure emerged in the afternoon after President Donald Trump told reporters U.S.-China trade talks still have a "long way to go" and once again threatened to impose tariffs on another $325 billion worth of Chinese goods. In addition, mixed batch of U.S. economic data led to uncertainty about the near-term outlook for interest rates.

The Dow hit a new record intraday high, but ended the day down 23.53 points or 0.1 percent at 27,335.63. The tech-heavy Nasdaq also slid 35.39 points or 0.4 percent to 8,222.80, while the S&P 500 fell 10.26 points or 0.3 percent to 3,004.04.

The major European markets moved to the upside on Tuesday. While the German DAX Index rose by 0.4 percent, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index and the French CAC 40 Index advanced by 0.6 percent and 0.7 percent, respectively.

Crude oil futures fell sharply on Tuesday after U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Iran is prepared to negotiate about its missile program. WTI crude for August delivery tumbled $1.96 or 3.3 percent to $57.62 a barrel, the lowest settlement since July 5.

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