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Nikkei Asia300 ends week lower as North Korea woes grip markets

HONG KONG (Nikkei Markets) -- Asian stocks fell Friday to end the week lower as flaring tensions between North Korea and the U.S. spooked investors.

The Nikkei Asia300 Index fell 1.7% to 1,259.16 on Friday, shedding 2.6% for the week. South Korean heavyweight Samsung Electronics lost 6.5% this week, among the biggest contributors to the losses on the gauge. Mainland lenders Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), China Construction Bank (CCB) and Bank of China (BOC) also faltered, shedding at least 3.9% this week.

Risk appetite was rattled this week after U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday warned that threats from North Korea will be met with "fire and fury," following which Pyongyang said it is examining plans to launch missiles into waters near the U.S. territory of Guam. On Thursday, Trump reiterated his position on the isolated nation, saying he may not have been tough enough earlier.

"For now, it is merely a war of words," Barnabas Gan, an economist at OCBC Bank, wrote in a note to clients. "However, if the war of words escalates into a military engagement, our estimates suggest a derailing of global growth, led by a fall in both trade volumes and asset prices."

South Korea's country gauge tumbled 5.3% this week, weighed down by losses in Samsung and heavyweight automakers. Kia Motors shed 6.4% since last Friday, while Hyundai Motor fell 5.3%.

Taiwan's gauge slipped 1.7% this week.

The Nikkei Asia300 China Index fell 1.5% since last Friday, while Hong Kong's index lost 2.3%. Bourse operator Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing slumped 7.2% this week after reporting first-half earnings on Wednesday.

Tencent Holdings slumped 4.9% after a Chinese regulator said it is investigating social media sites, including Tencent's WeChat, for failure to comply with cyber laws. The internet giant, due to report half-yearly earnings next Wednesday, declined 0.2% this week.

The Nikkei Asia30 ASEAN Index of Southeast Asian companies shed 1% this week. Investors await data on second-quarter growth from the Philippines and Malaysia next week, as well as the Bank of Thailand's monetary policy meeting.

Singapore's gauge lost 1.3% on Friday despite an upward revision in its second-quarter gross domestic product data.

Wilmar International dropped 6.4% after the world's largest palm oil processor reported a 68% plunge in April-June pretax profit at its tropical oils segment.

Singapore Telecommunications ended unchanged at S$3.76 Friday, but lost 1.8% this week. The company on Friday reported a 6% year-on-year drop in net profit for the first quarter as contributions from India's Bharti Airtel tumbled and the company took a charge for workforce restructuring at Australian subsidiary Optus. Operating revenue for the quarter increased 8%.

Singapore Technologies Engineering slid 3.1% on Friday following a 12% drop in second-quarter net profit, due to a weak marine sector and its U.S. operations.

India's index fell 4.4% this week. Tata Motors led the losses with a near 14% weekly slide after its June quarter earnings disappointed investors. The stock slid 1.7% on Friday.

Cipla lost 1.1% on Friday after saying its first-quarter revenue fell 13%. Profit for the period increased 20%. Sun Pharmaceutical Industries slid 1.9% on Friday ahead of its June quarter earnings. At the end of the day's trading, it reported an unexpected loss for the three month period. Sun Pharmaceutical shed 11% this week.

State Bank of India fell 5.4% on Friday, ending the week 8% lower. The nation's largest lender on Friday reported a 20% drop in June-quarter profit.

--Suzannah Benjamin and V. Phani Kumar

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