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Asian Equities Fall; China Opens More Future Markets to Foreign Investors

Asian equities fell in afternoon trade on Friday, – Asian equities fell in afternoon trade on Friday, while reports that China said on Friday that it was planning to open up its futures markets more to foreign investors were in focus.

The country's securities regulator said Beijing launched an internationalised iron ore contract to outside investors, making it the second commodity China made available to foreign markets.

Iron ore contract is China's most liquid derivatives, according to reports.

Meanwhile, the ongoing conversation between U.S. and China continued to receive attention as U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Friday that the talks were “very good”.

Mnuchin said the two countries are having a “very good conversation", while a White House official added on Thursday that the atmosphere was “fairly positive”, although any real breakthrough would depend on China’s willingness to deliver its promises of economic change.

“What I heard from the first day, and again they’ve been there for a full day of negotiations, has been fairly positive,” Mark Calabria, chief economist to U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, said. “The difficulty will always be that we will most of the time hear pretty positive things from China and the question is whether they will actually do them. So that’s going to be the tough part.”

It is also reported that the U.S. requested China to lower its tariff rates to boost exports of American goods.

The merchandise trade gap with China widened by 16% to $91.1 billion in the first quarter, according to data released on Thursday.

In Asia, Japan remain closed for a public holiday, while China’s Shanghai Composite slipped 0.1% and the Shenzhen Component edged up 0.1% by 1:15AM ET (05:15 GMT). The Caixin/Markit services purchasing managers' index (PMI) climbed to 52.9 in April from March's four-month low of 52.3, a private survey showed on Friday.

Meanwhile, Japan, China and South released a statement after a trilateral meeting in Manila on Friday that warned of the risk of protectionism, while agreed to ensure an open and rule-based multilateral trade.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index slid 0.6%. Ping An Healthcare and Technology Company Ltd (HK:1833), an online healthcare platform operator, made its Hong Kong debut on Friday and opened 4.6% higher.

Elsewhere, South Korea’s KOSPI also fell 0.6%. Index heavyweight Samsung Electronics (KS:005930) received some attention as the company’s shares, which account for around 20% of the KOSPI’s market capitalization, fell 1.2% after a 50:1 stock split.

Down under, Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 was down 0.5%.

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