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Nikkei Markets

Asian stocks little changed on lingering China-US tensions

Energy producers rise while Sapura gains after stake sale in unit

HONG KONG (Nikkei Markets) -- Asian stocks outside of Japan ended little changed on Wednesday, as investors await further developments in the lingering trade spat between the U.S. and China.

The Nikkei Asia300 Index ended 0.02% higher at 1,261.83. Markets await further developments in the tussle between the world's two largest economies, after U.S. President Donald Trump signaled America's readiness to impose import tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods and warned about possible levies on a further $267 billion of shipments from China. Both the nations have already introduced two rounds of tariffs on imports from each other.

China has told the World Trade Organization it wants to impose $7 billion a year in sanctions on the U.S. in retaliation for Washington's non-compliance with a ruling in a dispute over U.S. dumping duties, Reuters reported on Tuesday.

"An air of caution continues to linger across financial markets as investors await fresh developments on the global trade front," Lukman Otunuga, a research analyst at FXTM, wrote in a note. "Market sentiment could take a hit if the Trump administration moves ahead with imposing tariffs on China, especially after Beijing has repeatedly vowed to retaliate. With a full-scale trade war between the world's two largest economies seen as a major threat to global stability, there are no winners."

Energy producers advanced after Brent crude oil prices rose 2.2% overnight. CNOOC and PetroChina advanced 1.4% and 0.3%, respectively, in Hong Kong, while PTT Exploration & Production rose 2.2% in Bangkok.

Sapura Energy jumped 6% in Kuala Lumpur after the Malaysian oil and gas services provider said it is in talks to sell a 50% stake in exploration and production unit Sapura Upstream to Austria's OMV.

CK Infrastructure Holdings, a unit of diversified conglomerate CK Hutchison Holdings, added 1.9%. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission on Wednesday approved the company's A$12.98 billion ($9.2 billion) takeover of Australian gas pipeline operator APA Group.

Pork producer WH Group slid 1.8%. Smithfield Foods, a U.S. unit of the company, will shut its Tar Heel plant in North Carolina on Thursday and Friday due to Hurricane Florence, Reuters reported, citing a company spokeswoman.

Idea Cellular ended 0.1% higher in Mumbai, while Bharti Airtel fell 1.3%. The losses came after billionaire Mukesh Ambani's Reliance Jio Infocomm offered a 100-rupee ($1.38) discount on a popular plan.

Tata Motors fell 1.7%. A wrong Brexit deal may cost the company's British unit Jaguar Land Rover tens of thousands of jobs and risk production cuts, JLR Chief Executive Officer Ralf Speth reportedly said at a summit in Birmingham on Tuesday.

--Suzannah Benjamin

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