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Asian Markets Fall as Trump Impeachment Saga Hits Sentiment

Asian markets fell Friday following declines on Wall Street as the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump weighed on sentiment.

Political turmoil in Washington following the release of a whistleblower's complaint overshadowed positive comments from Trump on US-China trade talks and steps towards a new agreement with Japan.

The incendiary complaint alleges Trump sought to enlist Ukraine to help his 2020 campaign and then conspired with staff to cover it up.

All three US markets ended lower, with the Dow down 0.3 percent, the S&P off 0.2 percent and the Nasdaq gave up 0.6 percent.

"The market isn't clear on what to make of the latest impeachment developments in the US, and this continues to increase uncertainly and could be weighing on investor sentiment," Stephen Innes, Asia Pacific market strategist at AxiTrader, said in a note.

"Compounding this uncertainty is the stark reality that most of the global economy is moving in reverse while omnipresent geopolitical unease ensures the market remains in a constant wobble on a forever shifting trade war axis."

In Asia, Tokyo was down 1.2 percent as many shares went ex-dividend and Seoul was 1.1 percent lower.

Hong Kong was down 0.3 percent while Shanghai was up 0.1 percent with trade cautious ahead of a weeklong holiday to mark the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China.

Singapore, Malaysia and Taiwan also retreated while Sydney was up 0.4 percent, one of the few markets seeing gains.

Elsewhere, crude prices slipped following the swift recovery in Saudi production following the attacks on its oil infrastructure two weeks ago.

Both main contracts were lower, with WTI down 0.5 percent and Brent off 0.8 percent.

"The market has been trading lower as oil bulls have been discouraged by quicker than expected return of Saudi oil output," said AxiTrader's Innes.

Investors were also awaiting US inflation, durable goods and personal income data due later Friday for a take on the world's biggest economy.

"With the US consumer, the last man standing still to take cover from the global slowdown, a poor read from these numbers has the potential to floor equities and end the week on a sour note," said Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst at OANDA.

- Key figures around 0300 GMT -

Hong Kong - Hang Seng: DOWN 0.3 percent at 25,969.21

Shanghai - Composite: UP 0.1 percent at 2,933.386

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: DOWN 1.2 percent at 21,779.99

New York - Dow: DOWN 0.3 percent at 26,891.67 (close)

London - FTSE 100: UP 0.8 percent at 7,351.08 points (close)

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.0921 from $1.0920

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.2328 from $1.2321

Euro/pound:  DOWN at 88.58 pence from 88.63

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 107.72 from 107.88 yen

West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 0.5 percent at $56.12 per barrel

Brent North Sea crude: DOWN 0.8 percent at $62.21 per barrel

Source: Agence France Presse


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