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Asian Shares Mixed On Growth Concerns

stockmarkets dec12 05mar19 lt

Asian stocks ended mixed on Tuesday after U.S. construction spending unexpectedly fell in December and China cut its GDP growth target, raising fresh concerns about global growth.

China lowered its economic growth target for 2019 to a range of 6.0 to 6.5 percent from the 2018 target of around 6.5 percent, citing challenges from rising debt and the trade dispute with the U.S.

On the trade front, Chinese Commerce Minister Zhong Shan said trade talks with the U.S. have been "extremely difficult and time-consuming" due to the large differences between the two countries.

China's Shanghai Composite Index jumped 26.67 points or 0.9 percent to finish at 3,054.25 after Premier Li Keqiang's annual report to the National People's Congress mentioned wide-ranging tax cuts and targeted monetary support for the economy. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index finished marginally higher at 28,961.60.

Meanwhile, Japanese shares pulled back from a three-month high, with chipmakers and machinery firms underperforming amid concerns over the slowing Chinese economy.

The Nikkei 225 Index eased 95.76 points or 0.4 percent to 21,726.28, while the broader Topix ended down 0.5 percent at 1,619.23.

Robot maker Fanuc dropped 1.3 percent after surging up 3.5 percent in the previous session. Komatsu, Yaskawa Electric, Tokyo Electron and Advantest declined 1-3 percent. Pigeon Corp, which has large exposure to China, plunged 7.5 percent.

In economic news, the Japanese service sector in Japan expanded at a faster rate in February, the latest survey from Nikkei revealed with a services PMI score of 52.3, up from 51.6 in January.

Australian stocks fell as investors locked in profits after four sessions of gains. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index recouped some early losses to end the session down 18.10 points or 0.3 percent at 6,199.30 as the Reserve Bank left its benchmark interest rate unchanged and said it expects further progress in the reduction of unemployment and inflation returning to target. The broader All Ordinaries Index slipped 21.10 points or 0.3 percent to 6,281.40.

Mining stocks declined as Chinese rebar and iron ore prices fell on demand concerns. BHP and Rio Tinto fell around 0.9 percent, while mining contractor CIMIC Group lost 2.2 percent.

Grocery chain Coles Group fell slightly on news it will establish a joint venture with KKR -owned Australian Venue Co. for the management of gaming and hotels.

In economic news, Australia had a seasonally adjusted current account deficit of A$7.2 billion in the fourth quarter of 2018, a government report showed. That compared to expectations for a shortfall of A$9.1 billion following the A$10.7 billion deficit in the three months prior.

Separately, the service sector in Australia contracted for a second straight month in February, albeit at a slower pace, the latest survey from the Australian Industry Group revealed.

Seoul stocks fell on concerns over slowing growth in China and amid uncertainty over the U.S.-China trade deal. The benchmark Kospi dropped 11.43 points or 0.5 percent to 2,179.23.

Following a 0.6 percent increase in the third quarter, South Korea's gross domestic product expanded a seasonally adjusted 1.0 percent sequentially in the fourth quarter of 2018, the Bank of Korea said.

New Zealand stocks fell on profit taking after reaching a record high the previous day. The benchmark S&P/NZX 50 Index dropped 13.80 points or 0.2 percent to 9,399.69.

Fonterra Co-operative Group bucked the weak trend to end up by over 1 percent after appointing Miles Hurell as its permanent chief executive.

Overnight, U.S. stocks edged lower as weak data on construction spending offset investor optimism over a potential U.S.-China trade deal.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 0.8 percent, the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite dipped 0.2 percent and the S&P 500 shed 0.4 percent.

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