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Asian Shares Retreat On Lingering Trade Worries

markets 111714 27jun18

Asian stocks fell broadly on Wednesday, with Chinese and Hong Kong markets pacing regional declines after the U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a bill to tighten foreign investment rules and the Trump administration threatened sanctions on countries that continue to import oil from Iran.

Chinese stocks fell sharply and the yuan hit its lowest level against the greenback since December 2017 on concerns over an ongoing trade dispute with the United States.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index slumped 31.64 points or 1.1 percent to 2,812.87 after drifting into bear market territory the previous day. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index plunged 525.14 points or 1.8 percent to close at 28,356.26.

Japanese shares edged lower, although markets ended off their day's lows on suspected ETF buying by the Bank of Japan. The Nikkei 225 Index slid 70.23 points or 0.3 percent to 22,271.77 as the dollar slipped against the yen on worries over U.S. protectionist policies.

The broader Topix index closed marginally higher at 1,731.45. Bridgestone, Canon and Japan Tobacco fell 3-4 percent on going ex-dividend. Automaker Honda Motor gave up 2.8 percent on tariff concerns.

Australian shares finished marginally lower as gains by mining and energy stocks were offset by weakness in the banking sector. Higher oil, copper and iron ore prices helped lift mining and energy stocks, with BHP Billiton, Woodside Petroleum and Oil Search climbing 1-2 percent.

Banks ended broadly lower on worries the tit-for-tat trade war may weigh on economic growth. Rail operator Aurizon Holdings tumbled 2.9 percent after saying its fiscal year 2019 year will be negatively impacted by several factors.

Seoul stocks fell amid rising trade tensions between the Unites States and other leading economies. The benchmark Kospi dropped 8.89 points or 0.4 percent to 2,342.03 despite foreign investors turning net buyers for the first time in three sessions.

Steelmaker Posco tumbled 3.2 percent and top chemical maker LG Chem lost 3.7 percent, while tech heavyweight Samsung Electronics advanced 2 percent.

New Zealand shares closed largely unchanged as consumer staple stocks rebounded from recent losses. Dairy firm a2 Milk rose 0.7 percent and Synlait Milk advanced 2.7 percent.

Air New Zealand rallied 2.2 percent after the company said a penalty of A$15 million imposed by the Australian Federal Court on cartel charges wouldn't affect its earnings guidance for the year ending June 30.

In economic releases, New Zealand's foreign trade surplus increased notably in May from a year ago, as exports grew faster than imports, preliminary figures from Statistics New Zealand showed. Separately, survey data from ANZ Bank revealed that business confidence in New Zealand deteriorated in June.

Benchmark indexes in India, Malaysia, Singapore and Taiwan were down between 0.3 percent and 0.7 percent, while Indonesia's Jakarta Composite index was moving up 0.2 percent.

U.S. markets rose overnight as technology stocks rebounded from heavy losses in the previous session and energy stocks also moved higher after the U.S. asked all countries to stop importing oil from Iran.

On the economic front, consumer confidence and house price data disappointed investors. The Dow inched up 0.1 percent, the S&P 500 gained 0.2 percent and the Nasdaq Composite added 0.4 percent.

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