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Asian Equities Mixed; Trade Concerns Remain In Focus

Asian equities were mixed in morning trade - Asian equities were mixed in morning trade on Monday, with trade worries continuing to be key market drivers.

U.S. president Trump said on Sunday that China would take down its trade barriers because it was "the right thing to do."

“Taxes will become reciprocal & a deal will be made on Intellectual Property,” Trump said on his Twitter page, adding that “no matter what happens, (Chinese) President Xi and I will always be friends.”

The comment followed a proposed $100 billion in tariffs on Chinese imports last Thursday, while Beijing said it was fully prepared to respond with a "fierce counter strike".

Investors’ attention now turns to China’s Boao Forum, where President Xi Jinping is expected to address the country’s responses to U.S.’s tariffs. Meanwhile, He Weiwen, deputy director of the Center for China and Globalization in Beijing, said “Xi’s Boao speech will reiterate China’s firm support for globalization, compliance with World Trade Organization rules and its commitment for opening up.” He is also a former Commerce Ministry official.

The trade tensions overshadowed the March U.S. jobs report that came out Friday, which showed employment cooled by more than forecast. U.S. Fed Chair Powell said the data support gradual hikes this year.

Reports that the U.S. confirmed that North Korea’s Kim Jong Un is willing to talk to President Donald Trump about denuclearization made headlines on Monday, as CNN reported on Saturday that the U.S. and North Korea’s intelligence officials have been holding secret, direct talks more than once in a third country to prepare for the upcoming summit.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 slipped 0.1% by 9:55PM ET (01:55 GMT). The country’s current account surplus widened to $19.6b in Feb, below market’s forecast.

China’s Shanghai Composite opened 0.7% lower, while Shenzhen Component was up 0.1%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index gained 0.6%.
The country’s Vice Premier Liu He said at the establishment ceremony for the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission (CBIRC) on Sunday that China would undergo a financial supervision reform to tackle problems such as cross-regulation and the lack of supervision.

Meanwhile, China has halted the export to North Korea of some items with potential dual use in weapons of mass destruction, according to a statement released by the Chinese Ministry of Commerce. The KOSPI was up 0.3% in morning trade.

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