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Nikkei Markets

Nikkei Asia300 falls as US-China trade woes resurface

Energy producers weigh on gauge as Brent futures drop

HONG KONG (Nikkei Markets) -- Asian stocks outside of Japan fell on Wednesday, tracking an overnight drop on Wall Street, amid renewed worries over trade relations between the U.S. and China.

The Nikkei Asia300 Index lost 0.7% to 1,394.01. All three equity benchmarks on Wall Street retreated on Tuesday after comments from U.S. President Donald Trump reignited concerns about Sino-American trade relations. Trump said he was not pleased with the agreement so far, adding that the U.S. remains in talks with China. His remarks came days after Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said a "trade war" between the two nations was on hold.

Trump also proposed a plan to penalize ZTE and change its management, as he seeks to keep the Chinese telecommunications-equipment maker in business after the U.S. Department of Commerce earlier banned American enterprises from selling to the company. Separately, Reuters cited U.S. lawmakers as saying they will try to prevent Trump from easing penalties on ZTE. Trading in ZTE's shares remains halted in Hong Kong.

Coal miner China Shenhua Energy dropped 6.4% in Hong Kong. China's planning agency National Development and Reform Commission has asked utilities to stop stockpiling thermal coal and told miners to cut prices, Reuters reported, citing sources familiar with the matter.

Oil producers CNOOC and PetroChina slid 6.1% and 4.5%, respectively, as Brent crude futures retreated further away from $80 a barrel. Sapura Energy fell 5.9% in Kuala Lumpur.

China Unicom (Hong Kong) fell 2.7% after the mobile-services provider on Monday said its 4G subscribers rose by 4.06 million in April, compared with an addition of 7.07 million users in March.

Chipmaker SK Hynix jumped 7% in Seoul after it reportedly started supplying chips to Nasdaq-listed NVIDIA. Samsung Electronics rose 3.6% amid broad technology-sector gains.

Hon Hai Precision Industry, or Foxconn, fell 0.5% in Taiwan. Late Tuesday, its unit Foxconn Industrial Internet said it plans to raise 27.1 billion yuan ($4.26 billion) from an initial public offering in China.

Axiata Group, Malaysia's largest mobile-phone company by revenue, slumped 12.6%. Late Tuesday, it reported a net loss of 147.4 million ringgit ($36.9 million) for the three months ended Mar. 31, compared with a net profit of 239 million ringgit a year ago. Its quarterly operating revenue fell 2.2% to 5.75 billion ringgit.

The company plans to expand into fixed-line business in its operating countries, its managing director said Wednesday, adding that its telecom tower unit Edotco is targeting one or two companies for potential acquisitions.

Data released Wednesday showed Malaysia's consumer prices rose at a lower-than-expected pace in April, driven mostly by costlier food. The consumer price index rose 1.4% in April from a year earlier, according to a statement from the Department of Statistics.

Singapore's Hyflux, a water-treatment firm whose earnings have been battered by the weakness in the local power market, said it has applied to the High Court to start a court-supervised process to reorganize its liabilities and businesses. Hyflux's shares have been suspended since Monday.

--V. Phani Kumar

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