Asian Shares End Mixed On Growth Concerns

Asian stocks ended mixed on Thursday as worries over U.S.-China trade war lingered and weak data from China and Japan stoked worries that a global slowdown is deepening.

Chinese stocks ended on a positive note as weak data, reflecting a sharper slowdown in industrial activity in October bolstered expectations that policymakers will ramp up stimulus to boost a fragile economic recovery.

Retail sales in China grew 7.2 percent in the month compared to a year ago, below the 7.9 percent increase expected by analysts. Industrial output grew 4.7 percent, which was also weaker than anticipated.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite index edged up 0.16 percent to 2,909.87 while Hong Kong's Hang Seng index fell 0.93 percent to 26,323.69 amid reports the Hong Kong government will announce a curfew for the weekend.

Japanese shares fell sharply as the yen strengthened on doubts about progress in U.S.-China trade negotiations and data showed Japan's economy grew at the slowest pace in a year in the third quarter.

Gross domestic product grew an annualized 0.2 percent quarterly following a revised 1.8 percent expansion in the second quarter, figures from the Cabinet Office showed as trade wars and a weaker global economy hurt exports and private consumption slowed. Economists had forecast 0.8 percent growth.

The Nikkei average fell 178.32 points, or 0.76 percent, to 23,141.55 while the broader Topix index ended down 15.93 points, or 0.94 percent, at 1,684.40.

Toyota Motor, Honda Motor, Sony and Panasonic declined 1-2 percent on a stronger yen. Semiconductor test equipment supplier Advantest plunged 7.6 percent and Screen Holdings gave up 1.6 percent.

Z Holdings, formerly known as Yahoo Japan, surged 17 percent after reports the company and messaging service Line Corp. are in talks about a merger of their businesses. Line is controlled by South Korea's Naver Corp.

Australian markets gained ground, supported by healthcare and technology firms. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index rose 36.70 points, or 0.55 percent, to 6,735.10 while the broader All Ordinaries index ended up 35.20 points, or 0.52 percent, at 6,840.80.

Healthcare stocks rose on defensive buying, with CSL rising 1 percent and Cochlear rallying 1.3 percent.

Afterpay Touch Group soared 7.5 percent to extend gains after announcing an A$200 million subscription by US based Coatue Management LLC. Aerial imagery business Nearmap surged 14 percent after updating its fiscal 2020 guidance.

Lender National Australia Bank tumbled 3.4 percent on going ex-dividend. Mining heavyweight BHP Group ended little changed as it named Mike Henry as its chief executive officer to succeed Andrew Mackenzie.

Australia's inflation expectations and actual pay growth increased in November, results of a survey by the Melbourne Institute revealed today.

The expected inflation rate, which is the 30-percent trimmed mean measure, increased by 0.4 percentage points in November to 4.0 percent.

Separately, Australia's consumer confidence strengthened in November, but the Christmas spending is likely to be weak, survey data from Westpac showed.

The Australia's employment situation got worse in October, with the jobless rate rising from 5.2 percent to 5.3 percent. Participation rate dropped from 66.1 percent to 66 percent while more than 19 thousand people lost their jobs.

New Zealand shares advanced, with the benchmark S&P/NZX 50 ending up 63.82 points, or 0.59 percent, at 10,899.25. South Korea's Kospi average climbed 0.79 percent to 2,139.23.

U.S. stocks ended mixed overnight after the Wall Street Journal reported that U.S.-China trade negotiations have hit a snag over farm purchases.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.3 percent after a jump in Walt Disney shares and the S&P 500 inched up marginally, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite slid 0.1 percent.

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