HONG KONG (Nikkei Markets) -- Asian shares outside of Japan ended little changed amid concerns that a falling Chinese currency could exacerbate the U.S.-China trade dispute.
The Nikkei Asia300 Index declined less than 0.1% to close at 1,218.56. The index had lost 7.1% over the previous five sessions.
The U.S. move last week to impose tariffs on more Chinese goods, the yuan's slide to below 7 to a dollar this week, and Washington's subsequent labeling of Beijing a currency manipulator have sapped investors' appetite for regional equities. The Chinese currency continued to be a major talking point on Wednesday after the People's Bank of China set the daily yuan exchange rate at 6.9996 to the dollar, weaker than yesterday's 6.9683.
In light of the U.S. labeling Beijing a currency manipulator, any further decline on the yuan will increase the risk of more action by Washington, analysts said.
Chris Weston, head of research at Australia-based Pepperstone Group, said the yuan is presently "central to moves across markets in Asia." White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow reportedly said the U.S. cannot tolerate the Chinese currency's depreciation.
Meanwhile, central banks of India, Thailand, and New Zealand cut interest rates on Wednesday, joining the Federal Reserve in easing monetary policy. The Reserve Bank of New Zealand cut rates by 50 basis points and the Reserve Bank of India by 35 basis points. Economists had expected both the RBNZ and the RBI to reduce rates by quarter percentage points. The Bank of Thailand cut rates by 25 basis points against expectations of a status quo.
In movers on the A300 on Wednesday, Chinese electric carmaker BYD fell 4.8% following a 17% decline in total sales volume in July from a year earlier. Other mainland carmakers too declined. Great Wall Motor slipped 1.5% and Guangzhou Automobile Group lost 1.4%.
China Overseas Land & Investment added 1.6% after reporting a 43.8% jump in contracted sales for July.
Singapore property developer CapitaLand declined 0.3% after reporting a 4.2% year-over-year decline in second-quarter net profit. StarHub fell 2% after the Singapore telecom operator reported a 36% on-year fall in June quarter net profit.
Hartalega Holdings edged 0.2% lower after the Malaysian glove maker said first-quarter net profit declined 24.7% from a year ago.
KT fell 2.3% after South Korea's largest telephone company said second-quarter operating profit declined 28% from a year earlier.
Cathay Pacific Airways advanced 0.8% after the Hong Kong airline swung to a profit in the first half of this year on falling fuel costs, which helped offset the impact of slowing revenue from cargo services.