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Nikkei Markets

Asian stocks fall amid US political risks, Trump comments on trade

Tencent, Great Wall drag down A300 index

HONG KONG (Nikkei Markets) -- Asian shares outside of Japan fell Wednesday amid concerns over U.S. political risks and worries over U.S.-China trade.

The Nikkei Asia300 Index declined 1.2% to 1,257.72.

The losses on the gauge came after the speaker of the United States House of Representatives yesterday announced a formal impeachment enquiry into President Donald Trump. The impeachment enquiry comes amid allegations that the president pressured Ukraine to investigate a former U.S. Vice-President, a possible Trump opponent in next year's presidential election.

Risk appetite in Asia was further marred by Trump's comments at the United Nations yesterday. The president said China had adopted an economic model that was reliant on currency manipulation, subsides, and theft of intellectual property. Trump also said while he wanted to do a trade deal with Beijing, he will not accept an agreement that does serve the interests of the American people.

The comments damped optimism over upcoming high level U.S.-China trade talks. Hopes of a headway in the discussions were buoyed by U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin's remarks earlier this week that deputy level talks between American and Chinese officials had progressed well and that high-level discussions will take place in Washington in two weeks.

Chinese companies were among the biggest contributors to losses on the A300 gauge. Ping An Insurance Group dropped 0.9%, Great Wall Motor fell 1.5%, and Tencent Holdings ended 2.1% lower.

An index of Chinese companies listed in Hong Kong fell 1%. The Shanghai Composite index declined 0.8% and the offshore Chinese yuan shed 0.13% to 7.1234.

Maruti Suzuki India fell 5.3%. The Indian carmaker said Wednesday that it will cut prices on select models, which will be over and above the current promotional offers.

India's benchmark equity index dropped 1.3% after climbing more than 8% over the previous three sessions on the back of an unexpected cut in corporate tax rates.

New World Development ended 0.2% lower. The Hong Kong-based property major said Wednesday its net profit for the year ended Jun. 30 fell 22.2% year-on-year in the absence of one-off items that bolstered its net income a year earlier.

Meanwhile, Thailand's SET Index edged 0.1% lower. The country's central bank earlier Wednesday kept the one-day repurchase rate unchanged at 1.50%. Thirteen out of 20 economists polled by Reuters had expected the BoT's monetary policy committee to keep rates unchanged, while the remaining had forecast a quarter percentage rate cut.

-- Nimesh Vora

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