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Asian Stock Markets Give up Early Gains to Finish Lower

By Investors Hub

Asian stocks gave up early gains to end lower on Wednesday after White House chief economic adviser Gary Cohn resigned from the Trump administration, raising concerns that President Donald Trump will go ahead with his plan to impose tariffs and risk a trade war.

Worries about the potential impact of a trade war overshadowed easing geopolitical concerns after North Korea said it is willing to talk about denuclearization.

China’s Shanghai Composite index dropped 18.18 points or 0.55 percent to 3,271.46, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index slumped 313.81 points or 1.03 percent to 30,196.92.

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Japanese shares closed lower as steelmakers extended recent losses on trade tariff worries. The Nikkei 225 index fell 165.04 points or 0.77 percent to 21,252.72, and the broader Topix index closed 0.72 percent lower at 1,703.96.

Japan Steel Works dropped 2.4 percent, Nippon Steel lost 2.2 percent and Kobe Steel fell as much as 7.4 percent.

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Australian shares tumbled as trade war fears intensified and data showed the economy grew below expectations in 2017. GDP growth slipped to 2.4 percent over the last year, compared with the annualized rate of 2.8 percent seen in the third quarter.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index fell by 60.40 points or 1.01 percent to finish at 5,902, while the broader All Ordinaries index ended down 56.10 points or 0.93 percent at 6,005.40.

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The big four banks fell between 0.7 percent and 1.6 percent, and retailers Woolworths and Wesfarmers ended down about 1.5 percent each. Lower base metal prices pulled down miners, with heavyweights BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto falling around 1 percent.

Oil stocks Origin Energy, Santos and Beach Energy dropped 2-5 percent despite crude oil prices rising overnight. Gold miners bucked the weak trend, with Evolution Mining, Newcrest, Norther Star and Regis Resources climbing 1-2 percent.

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Dipo Olowookere is a journalist based in Nigeria that has passion for reporting business news stories. At his leisure time, he watches football and supports 3SC of Ibadan.

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