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Asian Equities Fall Amid Lingering U.S.-China Trade Concerns

Asian equities fell in afternoon trade on Thursday – Asian equities fell in afternoon trade on Thursday as trade concerns continued to simmer after a recent sell-off in global markets, while technology stocks outperformed on the Nasdaq strong performance overnight.

China’s commerce ministry spokesman Gao Feng said on Thursday that the U.S. were being temperamental over bilateral trade issues, and that the U.S. government is being unpredictable. “Beijing has had to respond in a strong way,” Gao said, adding that U.S. unilateralism would ultimately damage the interest of its own workers and farmers as China is “fully prepared” to respond to any new list of U.S. tariffs.

On Monday, U.S. President Donald Trump ordered the U.S. Trade Representative to identify $200 billion worth of China goods for additional tariffs.

Meanwhile, Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell seemed to have echoed Gao’s comment as he said during a central bankers meeting in Portugal that trade tensions could cause damage to the global economy.

“Changes in trade policy could cause us to have to question the outlook,” Powell said during a panel discussion at the conference in Sintra, Portugal. “For the first time, we’re hearing about decisions to postpone investment, postpone hiring.”

Powell also said that the U.S. central bank should continue with a gradual pace of rate increase, confirming an outlook for higher interest rate in the United States.

In Asia, China’s Shanghai Composite and the Shenzhen Component fell 0.5% and 0.9% respectively by 1:33AM ET (05:33 GMT), while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index slipped 0.6%. Xiaomi Corp. caught some attention as reports on Thursday suggested the company’s highly-anticipated Hong Kong initial public offering could value the company at as little as $53.9 billion, compared to the initial goal of $100 billion last year.

According to Bloomberg, which cited marketing terms of the deal, the company and existing investors are offering 2.18 billion shares at HK$17 to HK$22 apiece, which would in turn value the company at $53.9 billion to $69.8 billion.

Elsewhere, Japan’s Nikkei 225 advanced 0.9%. South Korea’s KOSPI traded 0.6% lower in afternoon session.

Down Under, the S&P/ASX 200 rose 1.2%, with the consumer discretionary subindex leading gains.

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