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Asian Stocks Fall Amid Trump's Trade Comments; Autos Hit by Potential U.S. Tariff

Asian equities were mostly lower in afternoon trade – Asian equities were mostly lower in afternoon trade on Thursday amid renewed China-U.S. tension, while automakers underperformed after U.S. President Trump ordered the Commerce Department to consider a probe into automobile imports, which could lead to potential fresh tariffs on foreign vehicles.

U.S. President Donald Trump hinted on Wednesday that he has second thought about the trade deal he agreed with Beijing over the weekend.

Meanwhile, China's Commerce Ministry said it hopes the U.S. implements measures promised during trade negotiations last week as soon as possible, but noting that China has not promised a certain figure regarding the trade surplus cut.

The Federal Reserve meeting on Wednesday was also in focus as it indicated central bankers are happy to let inflation run above the 2% goal for a “temporary period”, indicating they're in no rush to tighten more aggressively.

In Asia, Japan's Nikkei 225 was down 1.2% by 1:30 AM ET (05:30 GMT).

A strengthening yen was cited as catalyst for the selling in local stocks.

China’s Shanghai Composite and the Shenzhen Component both slipped 0.2%, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index edged up 0.02%.

Hong Kong-listed aluminium producer United Company Rusal Plc (HK:0486) made headlines after the company said on Thursday that its chief executive Alexandra Bouriko and seven other board members have resigned from their positions and warned its investors of debt problems.

Rusal said it may not be able to service its debts due to the impact of U.S. sanctions, which prevented U.S.-exposed customers to buy metal from Rusal.

Although not a directional driver, China's Premier Li Keqiang said on Thursday that China supports a unified Europe and that there was a "huge potential" for cooperation between China and Germany.

Elsewhere, Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 slipped 0.1%, while South Korea’s KOSPI traded 0.4% lower.

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