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Asian markets mixed as traders eye delayed health-care vote

Hiroshi Watanabe | Getty Images

Asian markets closed mixed on Friday, as key health-care vote in the U.S. was delayed and President Donald Trump called on legislators for an up-or-down decision on Friday.

The ASX 200 finished up 0.8 percent or 45.6 points at 5,753.54, seeing broad gains across all sub-indexes, except for industrials and gold.

A strike at BHP Billiton's Escondida copper mine in Chile, the world's largest copper mine, is expected to end after workers decided to invoke a rarely used legal provision to allow them to extend their old contract. Shares of BHP Billiton were up 0.29 percent at A$24.26 per stock.

Japan's Nikkei 225 closed higher by 0.93 percent or 177.2 points at 19,262.53, as the yen remained at the 111 handle.

Across the Korean strait, the Kospi slipped 0.17 percent or 3.8 points to close at 2,168.95.

Samsung Electronics held its first Annual General Meeting of shareholders since Jay Y. Lee's arrest over a corruption scandal. Samsung Electronics shares fell 0.72 percent to 2,075,000 won ($1,849.51) each stock.

The South Korean electronics giant said on Friday that it will be difficult to adopt a holding company structure at this time, due to "negative effects that would arise from transitioning to a holding company," its chief executive Kwon Oh-hyun said at the meeting in Seoul.

Since last November, Samsung began reviewing whether to adopt a holding company structure, a proposal by U.s. activist hedge fund Elliot Management and other investors, in a bid to improve its corporate governance.

Mainland China markets were in positive territory. The Shanghai composite ended up 0.63 percent or 20.4 points at 3,268.93 and the Shenzhen composite closed up 0.4 percent or 8.1 points at 2,046.74.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng index was flat by mid-afternoon, as traders looked to the Hong Kong chief executive election on Mar. 26. This will be the first election since the pro-democracy "Umbrella Revolution" protests in 2014.

U.S. stocks fell on Thursday as Trump failed to close the deal with Republican lawmakers on how to dismantle Obamacare and the House vote was delayed.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 0.02 percent to close at 20,656.58, the S&P 500 slipped 0.11 percent to finish at 2,345.96 and the Nasdaq composite was down 0.07 percent to close at 5,817.69.

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ASX 200
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CNBC 100
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This was supposed to be Trump's first legislative win, and was seen as a proxy for the strength of his mandate. The U.S. House of Representatives vote on health care might also set back the roll-out of Trump's other plans, such as a major tax reduction.

"The market is asking for more proof and less polemics in terms of being able to increase their view that this is a credible President with credible changes that will in fact benefit businesses," Jim Lowell, CIO at Adviser Investments said to CNBC.

Another event risk is the Sunday meeting between a five Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and non-OPEC countries who will review where producers stand on compliance with the six-month output curb agreement.

During Asian trade, global benchmark Brent crude was up 0.14 percent to $50.63 a barrel and U.S. crude added 0.25 percent to $47.82.

Oil prices dipped on Thursday during U.S. hours, on continued concerns about that the OPEC-led supply cuts were not enough as U.S. stockpiles continue to rise.

The dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of currencies, last traded at 99.962 at 2:40 pm HK/SIN, down from levels above 100 seen earlier this week. The dollar/yen pair was higher during Asian trade at 111.4 after falling as much as 110.64 overnight.