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Nikkei Markets

Asian stocks fall amid concerns US-China relations may worsen

Hong Kong property developers among major losers on A300 index

HONG KONG (Nikkei Markets) -- Asian shares outside of Japan declined Friday as investor focus remained on the implications of U.S. President Donald Trump signing legislation backing a pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong.

The Nikkei Asia300 index fell 1.5% to close at 1,300.80.

The Hang Seng Index was the worst-performing Asian index on Friday, tumbling 2%. The gauge's worst drop in almost three weeks came a day after Trump signed legislation backing protestors who are demanding more autonomy from China. Following the U.S. move, Beijing accused Washington of "sinister intentions" and warned of "firm countermeasures."

The deterioration in the relationship between the world's two largest economies comes at a time when officials from both the sides are engaged in negotiations to diffuse a long-running trade dispute. If a deal is not made in about two weeks' time, there is a risk that more Chinese goods will be subject to U.S. tariffs.

Hong Kong property developers were among the major losers on the A300 gauge. New World Development paced the decline, falling 1.9%. An index of Chinese companies listed in Hong Kong fell 2.5%. Among the major losers, Tencent Holdings declined 1.8%, China Construction Bank dropped 2.7%, and Ping An Insurance Group slid 1.8%.

Chow Tai Fook Jewellery Group jumped 7.9% after the company reported a 21% fall in April-to-September profit as it had predicted. Goldman Sachs said the company's adjusted net income beat its estimates.

Tenaga Nasional lost 4.1% after the Inland Revenue Board (IRB) asked the Malaysian national electric utility firm to pay additional taxes for 2015-2017.

Singapore Technologies Engineering fell 1% amid broad market losses. The company's aerospace arm secured a 15-year engine maintenance contract from Japan Airlines Group's unit Japan Transocean Air.

Meanwhile, Indian equities ended lower ahead of the July-September GDP data. India's economic growth in the quarter is widely expected to have slowed further from an over six-year low in April-June. The BSE Sensex closed down 0.8%.

South Korea's Kospi dropped 1.5%. Bank of Korea earlier Friday left the policy rate unchanged at 1.25% following cuts in July and in October. BoK's chief said the current year growth is expected at 2%, down from 2.2% estimated earlier.

-- Nimesh Vora

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