Asian shares fall on dim trade outlook; dollar near…

By Andrew Galbraith

SHANGHAI, Aug 10 (Reuters) – Asian stock markets fell on Friday despite signs of greater government support for firms in China, with global trade tensions clouding the outlook for demand.

The U.S. dollar was near its highest levels in 13 months, while concerns over disputes with Washington pushed the Turkish lira to record lows and piled pressure on the Russian rouble.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was down 0.5 percent.

A drop in South Korean tech companies dragged Seoul’s Kospi down 0.7 percent, as the country’s finance ministry highlighted high oil prices and U.S. interest rate hikes as risks.

Worries over the tit-for-tat Sino-U.S. trade conflict dragged on shares in China, with the Shanghai Composite index dipping 0.1 percent.

But the tech-heavy ChiNext Composite index rose 0.6 percent, extending Thursday’s strong gains.

Josh Sheng, chief investment officer at Shanghai Tongshengtonghui Asset Management, said that reflected moves by Beijing to boost local firms, such as revamping a government leadership group to focus on supporting homegrown technology.

“The market in China is ‘risk on’ thanks to government support policies and rising infrastructure investment. I am optimistic about the A-share market for the rest of 2018,” he said.

Elsewhere, Japan’s Nikkei stock index fell 0.5 percent even as data showed the country’s economy expanded at a faster-than-expected annualised rate in the second quarter.

U.S. President Donald Trump is pushing Tokyo to sign a free-trade agreement and has threatened to impose higher tariffs on auto imports including those from Japan.

Australian shares were flat after the nation’s central bank left growth forecasts largely unchanged, but trimmed its near-term estimates for inflation.

Wall Street provided little direction

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