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Asian Markets Mixed; Australia’s Stocks Down as Turnbull’s Leadership in Question

Asian markets were mixed in morning trade - Asian markets were mixed in morning trade on Thursday, with Australia’s stocks underperforming as Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s leadership appeared to be in question after three senior ministers tendered their resignations and called for a second leadership vote.

The S&P/ASX 200 slipped 0.2% by 9:45PM ET (01:45 GMT) after Finance Minister Mathias Cormann resigned and said he believes former Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton is the best person to lead the government. "I can't ignore reality," Cormann said. "I can't ignore the fact that a majority of colleagues in the Liberal Party... are of the view that there should be a change," he said.

Meanwhile, Santos Ltd (AX:STO) jumped as much as 10% earlier in the day as the company revived its dividend. Qantas Airways Ltd (AX:QAN) on the other hand lost 5% after its pre-market announcement of a record annual underlying profit.

China’s Shanghai Composite and the Shenzhen Component gained 0.3% and 0.5% respectively as traders look to the lower-level trade talks between Beijing and Washington. The new U.S. tariffs on $16 billion of Chinese imports are set to take effect later Thursday.

Telecom giant Huawei Technologies received some focus as Australia’s government banned the company from supplying equipment for its planned 5G network as the government cited risk of foreign interference.

Elsewhere, Japan’s Nikkei 225 traded 0.3% higher in morning trade. The country’s flash Markit/Nikkei Japan Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) rose to 52.5 in August on a seasonally adjusted basis from a final 52.3 in July, data on Thursday showed.

The index remained above the 50 threshold that separates expansion from contraction for the 24th consecutive month.

"August flash data extended the current growth cycle in Japan's manufacturing sector to two years, the longest uninterrupted stretch of expansion since the global financial crisis," said Joe Hayes, economist at IHS Markit, which compiles the survey.

"That said, with export orders declining, this signaled that the latest expansionary PMI reading was underpinned by strength in the domestic market."

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