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Asian Stocks Mixed; North Korea Scraps Talks with Seoul

Asian equities were mixed in afternoon trade - Asian equities were mixed in afternoon trade on Wednesday as investors digested news that North Korea cancelled talks with Seoul planned for Wednesday.

North Korea told South Korean authorities that it was “indefinitely” suspending minister-level talks planned for Wednesday, South Korea’s Unification Ministry said, reportedly cited the annual South Korean-U.S. “Max Thunder” air defence drills as the major reason it called off the meeting. The development also casted doubts on a historic summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and his North Korean counterpart leader Kim Jong Un originally planned next month.

"This will weigh on the Korean reconstruction beneficiaries that have had a strong run on peace and even reunification hopes recently," JPMorgan analysts said in a note. "The broader risk for the region if talks do break down is that Trump no longer feels the need to keep China on side and could escalate trade tensions again."

Asian markets traded lower following the news, with the Shanghai Composite and the Shenzhen Component traded 0.2% and 0.1% lower respectively, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index pared earlier losses and was down only 0.2% by 1:30AM ET (05:30 GMT).

Meanwhile, China's April new home prices across 70 cities climbed 0.6% from a month earlier, official data showed on Wednesday. That compared with a 0.42% increase in March, the National Bureau of Statistics said in a statement.

A rise in treasury yields amid strong U.S. retail and factory data was also cited as headwind for local equities, as U.S. 10-year yield hit 3.095 on Tuesday, its highest since July 2011. The upbeat retail sales data also raised speculations that the Fed may raise rates three more times this year.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 slipped 0.4% after data on Wednesday showed the country’s GDP growth for the first quarter fell 0.6% compared to the same period last year, marking the end of economic growth for nine quarters.

Elsewhere, South Korea’s KOSPI edged up 0.1% in afternoon trade, despite talks between North and South Korea being abruptly canceled.

Down under, Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 climbed 0.4%.

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