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Asian Shares Drift Lower As Trade Tensions Rise

Asian stocks were moving lower on Friday, with ongoing U.S.-China tensions and concerns about the bleak economic outlook weighing on sentiment ahead of key U.S. jobs data due tonight.

Economists expect U.S. employment to jump by about 1.6 million jobs in July after an increase of 4.8 million jobs in June. The unemployment rate is expected to dip to 10.5 percent from 11.1 percent.

Gold hit a record high and the dollar steadied as U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order to ban transactions with TikTok's parent company ByteDance. Trump also signed another order prohibiting transactions related to WeChat.

On the virus front, a widely cited University of Washington model predicted that the U.S. death toll may almost double by December if the pandemic's pace doesn't change.

Oil prices hovered near five-month highs after Saudi Arabia and Iraq stressed their full commitment to the OPEC+ deal.

China's Shanghai Composite index fell over 1 percent after a high-powered U.S. panel recommended tightening the disclosure requirements for Chinese companies listed on American exchanges.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng index was down 1.6 percent as U.S. lawmakers struggled to push through a new support program for the world's largest economy.

Japan's Nikkei index was down 0.6 percent and the yen strengthened as the Cabinet earmarked 1.13 trillion yen ($10.7 billion) in reserve funds to continue measures to cushion the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Australia's benchmark S&P/ASX 200 was down 0.6 percent, with miners and banks declining as heightened coronavirus-induced restrictions stoked fears of further economic damage.

The Reserve Bank of Australia has warned the jobs market will take longer to recover from the coronavirus recession than expected due to extension of job support packages.

New Zealand's benchmark NZX-50 index dropped 0.8 percent and South Korea's Kospi was losing 0.2 percent.

U.S. stocks rose overnight after the number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits came in below expectations and President Trump said he could issue executive orders if Democrats won't agree to a new coronavirus stimulus bill.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite rallied 1 percent to a fresh record closing high, while the S&P 500 rose 0.6 percent and the Dow gained 0.7 percent to end the day at their best closing levels in five and two months, respectively.

European stocks fell on Thursday after the Bank of England warned of a slower post-pandemic economic rebound in the U.K.

The pan European Stoxx 600 declined 0.7 percent. The German DAX dropped half a percent, France's CAC 40 index shed 1 percent and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 lost 1.3 percent.

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