Asian Shares Extend Declines As Investors Rush To Safe-haven Assets

( - Asian stocks fell broadly on Friday to extend recent losses as growing worries over the prospects for the world economy prompted investors to shun equities and seek safe-haven assets.

Chinese stocks extended declines as President Xi's highly anticipated speech on four decades of reforms as well as fresh monetary support measures announced by the People's Bank of China failed to ease investor concerns over slowing economic growth.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite index fell 20.02 points or 0.79 percent to 2,516.25 while Hong Kong's Hang Seng index rose 0.51 percent to close at 25,753.42.

Japanese shares extended losses to close at a fresh 15-month low as the yen held gains on safe-haven demand amid rising borrowing costs in the U.S., political brinkmanship in Washington and fears of a slowing global economy.

The Nikkei average fell 226.39 points or 1.11 percent to finish at 20,166.19, the lowest level since September last year. The broader Topix index closed 1.91 percent lower at 1,488.19 ahead of a long holiday weekend.

Exporters Honda Motor, Nissan, Panasonic and Toyota Motor fell 1-3 percent while banks Mitsubishi UFJ Financial and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial ended down over 2 percent.

According to media reports, Carlos Ghosn, the former Chairman of Nissan Motor Co Ltd. was re-arrested by Japanese prosecutors on new allegations of aggravated breach of trust. The new charges will help the authorities to extend his detention.

Otsuka Kagu soared 30.4 percent on a Nikkei report the furniture retailer would partner with Beijing Easyhome.

Australian markets fluctuated before finishing lower at a fresh two-year low, as the oil sell-off deepened and U.S. President Trump's demand for border wall funds hurled the federal government closer to a shutdown.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 dropped 38.20 points or 0.69 percent to 5,467.60 heading into the Christmas break. The broader All Ordinaries index ended down 39.60 points or 0.71 percent at 5,533.30.

Origin Energy and Beach Energy lost 2-3 percent after oil prices tumbled 5 percent in the last session on concerns about oversupply.

Gold miners jumped as the precious metal held its ground near six-month high on safe-haven bids in the face of multiple headwinds facing the global economy.

Evolution Mining rallied 2.9 percent, Newcrest advanced 1.8 percent and Northern Star climbed 3.7 percent.

Hospital operator Healthscope jumped 5.8 percent after the company said the Canadian group's due diligence was "substantially complete". Mining giant BHP climbed 2.3 percent and Rio Tinto added 0.7 percent.

Seoul stocks ended little changed as investors fretted about slowing global growth and political uncertainty in Washington after President Donald Trump refused to sign a funding bill. The benchmark Kospi finished marginally higher at 2,061.49.

SK Hynix rallied 2.4 percent and Hyundai Engineering & Construction tumbled 3 percent while LG Chem jumped 4.2 percent.

New Zealand shares joined a global sell-off to end sharply lower. The benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index dropped 86 points or 0.98 percent to 8,686.19, posting its third straight weekly loss. Pushpay Holdings shares slumped as much as 6.7 percent.

U.S stocks plunged overnight to extend the sell-off seen in recent sessions, as a government shutdown loomed and investors fretted about the U.S. slipping into a recession in the next few years.

It appeared the federal government could be heading toward a shutdown after President Trump told House Republicans he is unwilling to sign a short-term spending bill approved by the Senate Wednesday night due to a lack of funding for his controversial border wall.

Renewed concerns about U.S.-China trade talks also weighed on markets after the Justice Department announced the criminal indictment of two computer hackers associated with the Chinese government.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 2 percent while the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite fell around 1.6 percent to hit their lowest levels in over a year.

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