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Asian Shares Mostly Lower As Trade Worries Deepen


Asian stocks closed mostly lower on Monday as worries about rising trade tensions stoked fears of a global recession. In addition to the U.S.-China trade war, U.S. President Donald Trump's threat to impose tariffs on all Mexican imports weighed on investor sentiment.

On Sunday, China published a white paper that said the U.S. should take responsibility for the setback in the U.S.-China trade talks. The paper accused the U.S. of being an untrustworthy negotiator and backtracking on its commitments in trade negotiations.

Chinese shares fell modestly as worries about U.S.-China trade tensions more than offset data showing Chinese manufacturing activity continued to log moderate growth in May.

The Caixin Purchasing Managers' Index came in at 50.2 in May, unchanged from the previous month. The index was forecast to edge down to a neutral 50.0.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index slipped 8.62 points or 0.3 percent to 2,890.08, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index edged down 7.23 points or less than a tenth of a percent to 26,893.86.

Japanese shares extended sharp losses from the previous session, while the safe-haven yen strengthened as investors worried about escalating global trade tensions. The Nikkei 225 Index declined 190.31 points or 0.9 percent to 20,410.88, its weakest closing level since February 9.

Major exporters turned lower as the yen strengthened. Canon declined 0.6 percent, Panasonic dropped almost 1 percent, Mitsubishi Electric dipped more than 1 percent and Sony lost almost 2 percent.

Index heavyweight Softbank Group lost more than 6 percent after the Wall Street Journal reported that the Japanese technology giant is facing difficulties in raising $100 billion for another fund dedicated to startups.

On the other hand, shares of Toshiba advanced almost 2 percent after French energy giant Total SA said it has agreed to acquire a portfolio of liquefied natural gas from Toshiba, with the transaction expected to close by the end of 2019.

Australian shares recorded their worst loss in five months amid worries about escalating global trade tensions. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index fell 76.40 points or 1.2 percent to settle at 6,320.50. The broader All Ordinaries Index slumped 81.00 points or 1.3 percent to 6,410.80.

Oil stocks fell as crude oil prices tumbled to a nearly 16-week low on Friday. Woodside Petroleum and Santos declined more than 2 percent each, while Oil Search lost nearly 2 percent.

In the mining space, Fortescue Metals and Rio Tinto lost more than 3 percent each, while BHP Group declined more than 2 percent after a drop in iron ore prices.

Among the big four banks, National Australia Bank slipped 0.6 percent, Commonwealth Bank dropped 0.8 percent and Westpac lost more than 1 percent.

ANZ Banking said it has completed the A$2.85 billion sale of its Australian life insurance business, OnePath Life, to Zurich Insurance Group. The bank's shares also fell more than 1 percent.

Bucking the trend, gold miners gained as gold prices rose to a seven-week high. Evolution Mining and Newcrest Mining rose more than 3 percent each.

Qantas Airways said it has asked Boeing and Airbus to present their "best and final offer" by August for aircraft capable of flying 21 hours non-stop from Sydney to London. The airline's shares lost almost 3 percent.

Wellard said its founder Mauro Balzarini has ceased the role of chief executive but did not give a reason for the move. Balzarini will remain a non-executive director. The cattle exporter's shares fell more than 2 percent.

Eclipx Group's shares rose more than 19 percent after the vehicle fleet leasing company's new management revealed a turnaround plan.

Meanwhile, Seoul stocks extended gains to a third session after opening lower, reflecting gains in tech stocks on massive buying by foreign investors.

The benchmark Kospi gained 26.11 points or 1.3 percent to close at 2,067.85. Market heavyweight Samsung Electronics and home appliance maker LG Electronics rose more than 3 percent each, while memory chipmaker SK Hynix advanced almost 2 percent.

Elsewhere in Asia, stocks in Singapore, Malaysia and Taiwan edged higher. The New Zealand market was closed on Monday for the Queen's birthday, while the Indonesia market is closed all week in observance of Eid-ul-Fitr.

U.S. stocks showed a substantial move to the downside on Friday, sending the major averages to fresh multi-month closing lows. The sell-off on Wall Street came after Trump revealed plans to impose tariffs on Mexico. The escalating trade dispute between the U.S. and China also weighed on stocks.

The Dow tumbled 354.84 points or 1.4 percent to 24,815.04, while the Nasdaq lost 114.57 points or 1.5 percent to close at 7,453.15, and the S&P fell 36.80 points or 1.3 percent to 2,752.06.

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