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Asian Markets Extend Losses On Trade Worries

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Asian stock markets are extending losses on Wednesday from the previous session as optimism about an imminent U.S.-China trade deal faded after U.S. Donald Trump said that a trade agreement with China might have to wait until after the 2020 presidential elections.

Adding to trade concerns, Trump threatened to impose duties of up to 100 percent on $2.4 billion in French imports, including champagne and handbags.

The Australian market is extending sharp losses from the previous session on trade war concerns.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is losing 120.20 points or 1.79 percent to 6,592.10, while the broader All Ordinaries Index is lower by 116.40 points or 1.71 percent to 6,702.00. Australian stocks posted their biggest intraday percentage loss in two months on Tuesday.

The major miners are notably lower amid weaker base metals prices. BHP is losing almost 3 percent and Fortescue Metals is declining almost 2 percent.

Rio Tinto is lower by more than 3 percent after the mining giant said it has curtailed operations at its Richard Bay Minerals unit in South Africa amid violence nearby. The company also said it will spend $1.5 billion on its Kennecott copper mine in the U.S. over the next six years, which will extend production to 2032.

The big four banks are also weak. Commonwealth Bank, Westpac and National Australia Bank are declining in a range of 1.5 percent to 1.8 percent, while ANZ Banking is losing more than 2 percent.

Oil stocks are declining even as crude oil prices rose modestly overnight. Oil Search, Woodside Petroleum and Santos are all lower by more than 2 percent each.

Among gold miners, Evolution Mining is lower by almost 2 percent while Newcrest Mining is adding 0.5 percent after gold prices rose sharply overnight.

TPG Telecom chief executive David Teoh said he is optimistic a planned merger of his company with Vodafone Australia will be cleared early next year, after a series of regulatory disappointments this year. TPG Telecom's shares are down 0.2 percent.

In economic news, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said Australia's gross domestic product gained a seasonally adjusted 0.4 percent on quarter in the third quarter of 2019. That was shy of expectations for an increase of 0.5 percent and down from 0.6 percent in the previous three months.

The latest survey from the Australian Industry Group revealed that the service sector in Australia continued to expand in November, albeit at a slower pace, with a seasonally adjusted Performance of Service Index score of 53.7. That's down from 54.2, although it remains well above the boom-or-bust line of 50 that separates expansion from contraction.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar is higher against the U.S. dollar on Wednesday. The local currency was quoted at $0.6850, up from $0.6846 on Tuesday.

The Japanese market is also extending losses from the previous session and the safe-haven yen further strengthened amid worries about a delay to a U.S.-China trade deal.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is lower by 296.53 points or 1.27 percent to 23,083.28, after falling to a low of 23,044.78 earlier. Japanese shares closed lower on Tuesday.

Market heavyweight SoftBank Group is edging down 0.1 percent and Fast Retailing is falling more than 4 percent.

The major exporters are mostly lower on a stronger yen. Sony is losing more than 1 percent, Mitsubishi Electric is declining almost 1 percent and Canon is down 0.3 percent, while Panasonic is edging up 0.1 percent.

In the tech space, Advantest is losing almost 3 percent and Tokyo Electron is declining more than 1 percent. Among auto stocks, Honda Motor is lower by more than 1 percent, while Toyota Motor is edging up 0.1 percent.

In the oil sector, Inpex and Japan Petroleum are declining more than 1 percent each.

Among the major losers, Taiyo Yuden is losing almost 4 percent and Nomura Holdings is lower by more than 3 percent. Concordia Financial, AGC, Chiba Bank and Sumitomo Metal Mining are all declining almost 3 percent each.

On the economic front, the latest survey from Jibun Bank showed that the services sector in Japan moved back into expansion in November, albeit barely, with a PMI score of 50.3. That's up from 49.8 and it moves back above the boom-or-bust line of 50 that separates expansion from contraction.

The survey also showed that the composite index moved up to 49.8 in November from 49.1 in October.

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

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

On Wall Street, stocks closed lower on Tuesday for the third straight session amid renewed trade concerns after U.S. President Donald Trump suggested he might prefer to wait until after the 2020 elections to strike a trade deal with China. The comments from the president added to rising trade concerns after his administration threatened to impose duties of up to 100 percent on $2.4 billion in French imports, including champagne and handbags.

After hitting its lowest intraday level in a month, the Dow pared its losses but still tumbled 280.23 points or 1 percent to 27,502.81. The Nasdaq fell 47.34 points or 0.6 percent to 8,520.64 and the S&P 500 slid 20.67 points or 0.7 percent to 3,093.20.

The major European markets turned in a mixed performance on Tuesday. While the German DAX Index edged up by 0.2 percent, the French CAC 40 Index slumped by 1 percent and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index tumbled by 1.8 percent.

Crude oil prices recovered from an early move to the downside to close modestly higher on Tuesday. WTI crude oil for January delivery added $0.14 or 0.3 percent to close at $56.10 a barrel.

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