(RTTNews.com) - Asian stocks fell broadly on Thursday as renewed global trade tensions as well as emerging market woes kept investors in a defensive mode. A sharp fall in oil prices overnight also weighed on markets.
Chinese stocks fell on fears of additional tariffs as a public comment period on the possibility of fresh U.S. tariffs on another $200 billion of Chinese goods ends today.
The benchmark Shanghai Composite index ended down 12.74 points or 0.47 percent at 2,691.59 while Hong Kong's Hang Seng index dropped 0.99 percent to 26,974.82.
Japanese shares fell, with a firmer yen, an annual reshuffle of the Nikkei index and a powerful earthquake in Hokkaido keeping investors nervous. The Nikkei average fell 92.89 points or 0.41 percent to 22,487.94 while the broader Topix index closed 0.74 percent lower at 1,692.41.
Hokkaido Electric Power Co plunged 6.4 percent after a coal-fired power plant supplying half of Japan's northern Hokkaido island was damaged in a powerful earthquake.
Furukawa Co nosedived 9.5 percent on news it will be deleted from the Nikkei benchmark index. Shares of video game company Nintendo tumbled 3.6 percent as the company prepares to reveal more details about games for its Switch and 3DS platforms later on Thursday.
Australian markets extended losses amid banking sector woes and concerns about emerging market economies. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index fell 70 points or 1.12 percent to 6,160.40, extending losses for the sixth straight session.
The broader All Ordinaries index shed 71.40 points or 1.13 percent to end at 6,267.80. Mining giant BHP Billiton tumbled 2.5 percent after buying a 6.1 percent stake in Solgold.
Rivals Rio Tinto, Fortescue Metals Group and South32 climbed 1-2 percent. Gold miner Newcrest dropped 1.5 percent and Evolution lost as much as 4.6 percent.
Energy stocks Woodside Petroleum, Origin Energy, Oil Search and Santos ended down between 1 percent and 1.5 percent after a sharp fall in crude oil prices.
Lender Westpac slid 0.4 percent after damaging revelations from a high profile inquiry. NAB shed 0.3 percent and ANZ eased 0.2 percent while health insurer NIB Holdings slumped 4.4 percent.
Investa Office Fund advanced 1.8 percent after reports that Blackstone Group is willing to sweeten its bid for the office landlord. Telstra jumped 3.3 percent despite the telecommunications firm cutting its earnings forecast.
Graincorp gained 1.5 percent after raising its full-year profit outlook. Sigma Healthcare plummeted 11.6 percent as it reported a nearly 52 percent fall in first-half profit due to restructuring costs and lower revenue.
Australia's trade surplus fell to a seasonally adjusted A$1.55 billion in July from A$1.94 billion in June, a government report showed. Nonetheless, this was above the expected level of A$1.45 billion.
Seoul stocks closed lower amid selling by foreign investors in large-cap tech shares after the Nasdaq Composite index fell more than 1 percent overnight in the wake of a Congress grilling of big tech executives.
The benchmark Kospi slid 4.16 points or 0.18 percent to 2,287.61. Market heavyweight Samsung Electronics dropped 1.1 percent and chipmaker SK Hynix declined 1.5 percent. Automakers surged higher, with Hyundai Motor and its affiliate Kia Motors climbing 3.9 percent and 4.5 percent, respectively.
South Korea posted a current account surplus of $8.76 billion in July, the Bank of Korea said today. That follows the $7.38 billion surplus in June. The goods account showed an $11.43 billion surplus, up from $10.59 billion a year earlier.
New Zealand shares fell sharply, dragged down by consumer-staple stocks. The benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index dropped 126.40 points or 1.37 percent to hit a two-week low of 9,101.60. Shares of A2 Milk tumbled 4.2 percent and Synlait Milk slumped 4.9 percent.
Overnight, U.S. stocks closed mostly lower as trade worries persisted and investors monitored a Congress grilling of big tech executives.
The tech-heavy Nasdaq tumbled 1..2 percent to log its biggest single-day decline since late July and the S&P 500 dropped 0.3 percent while the Dow inched up 0.1 percent.
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