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Nikkei Markets

Nikkei Asia300 Index posts third weekly decline as trade worries weigh

Ping An Insurance falls in Hong Kong after unit's tepid trading debut

HONG KONG (Nikkei Markets) -- Asian stocks fell on Friday, with concern over trade relations between the U.S. and China at the forefront as delegations from the two nations held talks in Beijing.

The Nikkei Asia300 Index fell 0.8% to 1,393.17 on Friday. For the week, the gauge slipped 1.1%, its third consecutive weekly decline.

Investors have been on edge this week as a U.S. delegation led by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin arrived in Beijing on Thursday to discuss bilateral trade. China's official Xinhua News Agency on Friday said the U.S. and China reached agreements on some trade issues, but did not provide details. The two nations also agreed to set up a mechanism to keep on communicating. The U.S. asked China to lower the trade deficit by at least $200 billion by the end of 2020, compared with 2018, Bloomberg News reported, citing a document seen by the agency.

"The chances of a breakthrough trade deal from the two-day meeting are seen as highly unlikely," Lukman Otunuga, Research Analyst at FXTM, wrote in a note. "However, the talks could be a positive step for the two nations to avoid a potential trade war. Although it is difficult to predict the outcome of the trade meetings, continual talks and negotiations between the Trump administration officials and Chinese officials may ease tensions.

China's most valuable insurer Ping An Insurance Group fell 1.1% in Hong Kong on Friday. Shares of its unit Ping An Healthcare & Technology gave up early gains to close flat at HK$54.80 on their trading debut in Hong Kong on Friday after the company raised $1.12 billion in gross proceeds from an initial public offering.

Hong Kong-listed insurer AIA Group slid 2% amid broad market losses despite reporting a 26% increase in value of new business in first quarter and a 4% increase in annualized new premiums.

Samsung Electronics fell 2.1% to 51,900 won as trading commenced for the first time this week after a 50:1 stock split took effect. The stock had closed at 2,650,000 won last Friday before the halt.

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding added 0.6% in New York overnight ahead of its March quarter earnings announcement, due later Friday.

Economic data released on Friday showed Malaysia's March exports rose 2.2% from a year earlier but imports declined 9.6% from a year ago. Exports in March totaled 84.50 billion ringgit ($21.49 billion) compared with 82.70 billion ringgit recorded during the same month last year, according to data released by the Department of Statistics.

Nikkei's ASEAN Index for Southeast Asian companies fell 0.6% on Friday.

--V. Phani Kumar

--Nikkei Markets is a real-time financial news service for South East Asia's markets published by Nikkei NewsRise Asia Pte Ltd, a Nikkei and NewsRise joint venture company. Nikkei Markets provides wide companies coverage in the region, including the Nikkei's Asia300 companies.

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