Asian Shares Mixed As Investors Await US-China Talks

Asian stocks ended mixed on Thursday as investors shrugged off U.S. President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address and looked ahead for progress in the U.S.-China trade dispute, ahead of crucial talks in Beijing next week.

Japanese shares fell despite SoftBank announcing a share buyback following the company’s release of strong quarterly earnings.

The Nikkei average dropped 122.78 points or 0.59 percent to 20,751.28, while the broader Topix index closed 0.83 percent lower at 1,569.03.

Automakers Honda Motor and Toyota fell 1-2 percent on concerns over global growth amid the U.S.-China trade war. Mazda Motor jumped 6.4 percent on its upbeat full-year earnings.

Telecoms and investment firm SoftBank Group soared 17.7 percent after announcing a huge buyback of its shares. Tech stocks ended mixed, with Advantest falling 1.8 percent while Tokyo Electron advanced 1.7 percent.

Australian markets rallied as a sliding Aussie dollar lifted commodity-related and healthcare stocks. Banks also rose on expectations of a low interest-rate environment as RBA Governor Philip Lowe opened the door to a possible rate cut in the wake of growing economic risks.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index jumped 66.40 points or 1.10 percent to 6,092.50 while the All Ordinaries index ended up 67.30 points or 1.10 percent at 6,159.10.

Rio Tinto gained 1.3 percent and smaller rival Fortescue Metals Group rose about 1 percent amid worries about a possible shortfall in iron ore supplies after Brazilian miner Vale declared force majeure earlier this week.

Energy stocks such as Woodside Petroleum, Santos, Origin Energy and Oil Search rose over 1 percent each after oil prices gained ground on Wednesday on signs of strong U.S. demand and tightening global crude supply.

The big four banks rose 1-2 percent while healthcare companies CSL and Ramsay Health Care jumped around 2 percent, driven by a weaker Aussie

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