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Asian Shares Slide On Weak Data

asian market down 29nov19 lt

Asian stocks moved mostly lower on Friday in the absence of fresh cues from Wall Street and after the release of weak Japanese data.

Caution prevailed amid worries that tensions between the U.S. and China over Hong Kong could delay a potential phase one trade deal.

Chinese shares hit a three-month low as investors fretted about Hong Kong unrest and uncertainty over the prospects for a U.S.-China trade deal. The Shanghai Composite Index slid 17.71 points or 0.6 percent to 2,871.98, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index plunged 547.24 points or 2 percent to 26,346.49.

Tokyo shares ended lower amid lingering trade tensions and a lack of overnight cues from Wall Street. The Nikkei 225 Index dropped 115.23 points or 0.5 percent to 23,293.91, while the broader Topix closed 0.5 percent lower at 1,699.36. Exporters ended mixed, with Toyota Motor falling 1.1 percent, while Panasonic rallied 2.3 percent.

Official data showed Japanese industrial production declined more than expected in October, signaling a notable contraction in GDP during the fourth quarter. The unemployment rate remained unchanged as expected in October, a separate report revealed.

According to preliminary data, industrial production plunged 4.2 percent month-on-month in October, in contrast to September's 1.7 percent increase. Economists had forecast a moderate decrease of 2 percent.

On a yearly basis, industrial production decreased by 7.4 percent after rising 1.3 percent a month ago. The unemployment rate held steady at seasonally adjusted 2.4 percent in October, matching economists' expectations.

Australian markets gave up early gains to finish modestly lower in thin trading after five sessions of gains. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index slipped 18.00 points or 0.3 percent to 6,846.00, while the broader All Ordinaries Index fell 17.60 points or 0.3 percent to 6,948.

Banks Commonwealth, NAB and Westpac ended down between 0.7 percent and 1.1 percent amid increased speculation of further rate cuts by the Reserve Bank of Australia next year.

Healthcare stocks rose modestly to extend gains from the previous session. Gold miners Newcrest and Evolution fell around 1 percent as the precious metal remained on track for its worst month in three years.

Select Harvests' shares jumped 6.9 percent after the horticultural firm said its almond harvest for the full year exceeded its own upgraded forecast in August.

Seoul stocks fell sharply amid selling by foreign investors as Hong Kong braced for a fresh round of protests over the weekend. The benchmark Kospi tumbled 30.64 points or 1.5 percent to 2,087.96.

The Bank of Korea retained its benchmark interest rate after lowering it twice this year. The Board said it would maintain its accommodative monetary policy stance and judge whether to adjust the degree of monetary policy accommodation while carefully monitoring developments in the U.S.-China trade negotiations.

Meanwhile, New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 Index jumped 109.29 points or 1 percent to a record high of 11,316.58 after a measure of the country's consumer confidence rose above its historical average in November. Utility Meridian Energy jumped 4.1 percent and dairy products maker A2 Milk Company added 2.1 percent.

Singapore's Straits Times index edged down 0.2 percent. In the Financial Stability Review, released Thursday, the country's central bank said it sees downside risks to the property market from the uncertain economic outlook and the weakening labor market.

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