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Asian Equities Extend Losses; U.S. Lashes Out Against Retaliatory Tariffs

Asian equities extended losses in afternoon trade – Asian equities extended losses in afternoon trade on Wednesday as markets await further measures from the Trump administration against China. Reports that U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer lashed out against retaliatory tariffs imposed by the European Union, China and other World Trade Organization members received some focus.

The Shanghai Composite and the SZSE Component were both 1.3% lower by 1:30AM ET (05:30 GMT).

Both Indices finished Tuesday’s session in bear market territory as they declined more than 20% from their 52-week highs.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index fell 0.8%.

Lightizer said on Tuesday that the U.S. would “take all necessary actions” to protect its interests.

"These retaliatory tariffs underscore the complete hypocrisy that governs so much of the global trading system," Lighthizer said. The EU, China and others claim to be champions of WTO rules, he said, "but their recent tariffs prove that they simply ignore WTO rules whenever doing so is convenient."

Meanwhile, U.S. President Donald Trump suggested during a meeting with lawmakers that his administration may switch to foreign investment reviews under the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States instead of imposing new limits on Chinese investment in U.S. technology.

“We have the greatest technology in the world, people copy it and they steal it, but we have the great scientists, we have the great brains, and we have to protect that,” Trump said. “And that can be done through CFIUS, we have a lot of things we can do it through.”

Trump then added that China is not the only country to be targeted by investment curbs.

“It’s not just Chinese. We don’t want people coming in,” Trump said. “We are a very smart country. We have the most incredible people in Silicon Valley. We don’t want China or other countries.”

The People’s Bank of China (PBOC) sets the weakest yuan mid-point rate on Wednesday since December 25, 2017, a move seen as China’s way of absorbing the shocks of the ongoing U.S.- China trade spat.

Elsewhere, the Nikkei 225 slipped 0.2%, with the financials and utilities sectors declining early on. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 edged up 0.03%.

Looking ahead, China’s manufacturing and non-manufacturing PMI are due on Saturday, while New Zealand and Indonesia monetary policy decisions are both due on Thursday.

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