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Asian Shares Mixed Ahead Of ECB Rate Decision

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Asian stocks turned in a mixed performance on Thursday ahead of an impending ECB policy decision later in the day, with new easing measures expected.

Investors also looked ahead to the U.S. Federal Reserve's two-day Federal Open Market Committee policy meeting next week, when the central bank is expected to continue cutting interest rates.

Chinese shares ended on a firmer note as U.S. President Donald Trump announced a short delay to scheduled tariff hikes on billions of dollars worth of Chinese goods in response to China's decision to exempt some U.S. anti-cancer drugs and other goods from its tariffs.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index climbed 22.42 points, or 0.8 percent, to 3,031.24 ahead of a holiday on Friday for the Mid-Autumn festival. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index ended down 0.3 percent at 27,087.63.

Japanese shares hit a four-month high as the yen continued to weaken amid signs of a thaw in trade tensions between the United States and China.

Investors also welcomed data showing that core machine orders in Japan fell a seasonally adjusted 6.6 percent sequentially in July. That beat expectations for a drop of 8.1 percent following the 13.9 percent surge in June.

The Nikkei 225 Index climbed 161.85 points, or 0.8 percent, to close at 21,759.61, its highest level since May 7. The broader Topix closed 0.7 percent higher at 1,595.10.

Online fashion retailer Zozo soared 13.4 percent after Yahoo Japan Corp. agreed to take a majority stake in the company. Yahoo Japan shares surged 2.4 percent. Tech stocks such as Tokyo Electron, Advantest and Screen Holdings climbed 3-5 percent.

Australian markets eked out modest gains, with financials and miners leading the gains on expectations the ECB will announce a new quantitative easing program later in the day.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index rose 16.90 points, or 0.3 percent, to 6,654.90, while the broader All Ordinaries Index edged up 13.50 points, or 0.2 percent, to 6,765.70.

Commonwealth Bank advanced 0.9 percent after it issued $2.5 billion worth of subordinated notes to bolster capital. The other big banks rose between 0.2 percent and 0.6 percent.

Higher iron ore prices boosted miners, with BHP edging up 0.1 percent and Rio Tinto adding 0.6 percent. Diversified miner South32 shed 0.7 percent on going ex-dividend. Whitehaven Coal tumbled 3.4 percent.

Santos, Beach Energy and Woodside Petroleum dropped 1-2 percent after oil prices plunged nearly 3 percent overnight following a downward revision in OPEC's oil demand forecast and speculation that the U.S. may ease sanctions on Iran.

The South Korean market was closed for the Chuseok Day holiday. New Zealand shares gave up early gains to end modestly lower. The benchmark S&P/NZX 50 Index ended down 19.82 points, or 0.2 percent, at 10,905.06.

U.S. stocks rose overnight as President Trump called for zero percent interest rates and China granted tariff exemptions for 16 types of American-made products as a sign of goodwill ahead of the next round of trade talks.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.9 percent, the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite climbed 1.1 percent and the S&P 500 added 0.7 percent.

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