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Asian Shares Retreat As Trade Worries Weigh

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Asian stocks fell broadly on Wednesday as hopes for a resolution to the U.S.-China trade dispute faded, offsetting comments by Fed Chairman Jerome Powell about expanding the central bank's balance sheet.

Trade optimism waned after the Trump administration imposed visa restrictions on Chinese officials and expanded its trade blacklist to include some of China's top artificial intelligence startups.

The Trump administration is also moving ahead with discussions around possible restrictions on capital flows into China, with a focus on investments made by U.S. government pension funds, Bloomberg reported.

Chinese stocks shrugged off weak global cues to end higher as investors remained optimistic about the prospects of more fiscal stimulus.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite index rose 11.29 points, or 0.4 percent, to 2,924.86, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index shed 0.8 percent to close at 25,682.81.

Japanese shares declined as the latest U.S.-China tension soured investors' mood. The Nikkei 225 Index slid 131.40 points, or 0.6 percent, to 21,456.38, while the broader Topix closed 0.3 percent lower at 1,581.70.

China-linked shares fell, with Fanuc down 1.6 percent and Komatsu losing 1 percent. Chip-related shares such as Screen Holdings, Advantest and Sumo lost 1-3 percent.

Nissan Motor gave up 1.1 percent after picking Senior Vice President Makoto Uchida as its next chief executive.

Australian shares retreated as heightened tensions between the United States and China sapped investors' appetite for risk.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index ended the session down 46.70 points, or 0.7 percent, at 6,546.70, while the broader All Ordinaries Index dropped 46.70 points, or 0.7 percent to 6,667.

Banks ANZ, Commonwealth and Westpac fell between half a percent and 1.2 percent, while mining heavyweights BHP and Rio Tinto declined 1.4 percent and 0.9 percent, respectively.

Gold miners surged amid rising uncertainty surrounding the U.S.-China trade war and gloomy Brexit headlines. Evolution Mining advanced 1.5 percent and Newcrest added 1 percent.

Woodside Petroleum, Origin Energy, Oil Search and Santos dropped 1-2 percent as oil prices slipped for a third consecutive session on escalating tensions between the United States and China.

Meanwhile, telecom giant Telstra gained 0.9 percent on news it will shut down its 3G network in June 2024 to make room for its 4G and 5G coverage.

Shares of Clinuvel Pharmaceuticals spiked 60 percent after the U.S. FDA approved the use of the biopharmaceutical company's drug Scenesse to treat a rare genetic disorder that induces skin damage from exposure to light.

Australia's consumer confidence weakened to the lowest level in more than four years in October despite interest rate reductions, survey results from Westpac showed today.

The Westpac-Melbourne Institute Index of Consumer Sentiment dropped to 92.8 in October from 98.2 in September. This was the lowest score since July 2015.

The South Korean market was closed for a holiday. New Zealand stocks fell notably amid a broad-based sell-off. The benchmark S&P/NZX 50 Index dropped 75.29 points, or 0.7 percent, to 10,940.86 on concerns over rising trade frictions.

Overnight, U.S. stocks slumped after the Trump administration imposed visa restrictions on Chinese officials over abuses of Muslim minorities in the Xinjiang region.

Meanwhile, Fed Chairman Jerome Powell flagged openness to further rate cuts and indicated the central bank intends to resume increasing the size of its balance sheet in order to ensure money markets function smoothly.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 1.2 percent, the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite shed 1.7 percent and the S&P 500 lost 1.6 percent.

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