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Asian Shares Retreat On Risk-off Sentiment

asian down 13aug19 lt

Asian stocks fell on Tuesday as a prolonged U.S.-China trade war, escalating tensions in Hong Kong after months of political unrest and Argentine President Mauricio Macri's loss in primary elections sent investors scrambling for safe haven assets such as the yen, gold and bonds.

China's Shanghai Composite Index gave up 17.73 points or 0.6 percent to finish at 2,797.26 as bank lending data disappointed and investors awaited key reports on retail sales, industrial production and the jobless rate due on Wednesday.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index plunged 543.42 points or 2.1 percent to 25,281.30 as anti-government demonstrators staged another protest at Hong Kong's airport on Tuesday, seeking greater democratic freedom.

Japanese shares hit a one-week low as traders returned to their desks after a long holiday weekend. The Nikkei 225 Index tumbled 229.38 points or 1.1 percent to 20,455.44, while the broader Topix slumped 1.2 percent to 1,486.57.

Exporters TDK Corp. and Subaru Corp. lost 3-4 percent as the yen hit a nearly seven-month high against the dollar, hurt by fresh jitters about the U.S.-China trade war, turmoil in Hong Kong and fears of a full-blown financial crisis in Argentina.

Tire maker Bridgestone slid 3.2 percent after lowering its earnings and sales forecasts for the full fiscal year. Steelmaker JFE Holdings plunged 6.3 percent and liquid crystal display maker Japan Display plummeted 7.1 percent on weak earnings.

Australian markets drifted lower, dragged down by healthcare stocks. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index dropped 21.80 points or 0.3 percent to 6,568.50, while the broader All Ordinaries Index ended down 22 points or 0.3 percent at 6,648.10.

Healthcare stocks such as CSL, Mayne Pharma and Cochlear fell between 1.5 percent and 3.4 percent. Miners bounced back from losses in the previous session, with Rio Tinto rising 0.6 percent, while smaller rival Fortescue Metals Group jumped as much as 3.6 percent.

Fund manager Challenger rallied 2.5 percent after confirming its second-half earnings guidance.

Westpac Banking Corp. edged down 0.3 percent as an Australian court dismissed a case by the corporate regulator against the bank. The other three banks ended down between 0.3 percent and 0.6 percent.

Magellan Financial Group entered into a trading halt after announcing a A$275 million capital raising.

In economic news, a measure of Australia's business conditions weakened in July, reflecting decreases across most industries, while confidence edged higher, survey data from the National Australia Bank showed.

Seoul stocks closed lower to snap a three-day winning streak, reflecting investors' diminished risk appetite amid massive protests in Hong Kong, rising geopolitical risks around the globe and mounting concerns over an economic slowdown.

The benchmark Kospi ended down 16.46 points or 0.85 percent at 1,925.83. Samsung Electronics, LG Electronics, Hyundai Motor and POSCO all ended down over 1 percent.

New Zealand shares ended modestly lower, with the benchmark S&P/NZX 50 Index closing down 0.2 percent at 10,854.77.

Singapore's Straits Times Index slid 0.7 percent. The Singaporean economy is forecast to expand in the range of 0.0 to 1.0 percent this year instead of the 1.5 to 2.5 percent estimated previously, the Ministry of Trade and Industry said in a report, citing challenging macroeconomic environment and the deepening downturn in the global electronics cycle.

U.S. stocks fell sharply overnight as investors fretted about the path of U.S.-China trade negotiations and the global economic outlook.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average tumbled 1.5 percent, while the S&P 500 and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite slid around 1.2 percent.

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