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Asian markets decline as trade worries weigh on investor sentiment

Key Points
  • Major Asian markets in Asia declined on Wednesday.
  • A private survey on Wednesday showed growth in China's services sector slowing to a four-month low in June.
  • Concerns over U.S. trade policy continue to weigh on investor sentiment.

Major Asian markets declined on Wednesday as global trade concerns weighed on investor sentiment.

The Nikkei 225 slipped 0.53% to close at 21,638.16, while the Topix fell 0.65% to end its trading day at 1,579.54.

In mainland China, the Shanghai composite was lower by 0.94% to close at 3,015.26 and the Shenzhen component shed 1.32% to 9,419.84. The Shenzhen composite fell 1.18% to close at 1,600.02.

A private survey on Wednesday showed that growth in China's services sector slowed to a four-month low in June.

Meanwhile, South Korea's Kospi also declined 1.23% to close at 2,096.02. Over in Australia, the bucked the overall trend in the region as it ended its trading day 0.49% higher at 6,685.50.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng index slipped more than 0.2%, as of its final hour of trading.

"I think recessionary signals are rising," Rainer Michael Preiss, executive director at Taurus Wealth Advisors, told CNBC's "Street Signs" on Wednesday. "Every number in ... many countries around the world that I look at seem to imply that the economies are weakening much faster than equity prices."

Asia-Pacific Market Indexes Chart

Trade concerns linger

Concerns over U.S. trade policy continue to weigh on investor sentiment. Washington on Monday threatened to impose tariffs on $4 billion of additional European Union goods in a long-running dispute over aircraft subsidies.

The new wave of proposed duties comes amid a 15-year dispute at the World Trade Organization over aircraft subsidies given to U.S. aerospace manufacturer Boeing and its European rival, Airbus.

The U.S. Commerce Department also said Tuesday that tariffs would be imposed on steel from Vietnam that was originally produced in South Korea or Taiwan, saying that those had circumvented U.S. anti-dumping and anti-subsidy duties.

On the U.S-China front, however, U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed not to impose new tariffs on each other's goods after the two met at the G-20 summit in Osaka, Japan.

In a speech given Tuesday, Bank of England Governor Mark Carney warned that existing trade tensions could "shipwreck the global economy or prove to be a tempest in a teacup. "

"Market players continue to worry about the state of the global economy," economists at ING wrote in a note, with the latest tariffs by the U.S. on Vietnam "highlighting that the trade war could be a long drawn out episode."

Currencies and oil

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 96.819 after touching lows around 96.6 yesterday.

The traded at 107.64 against the dollar after strengthening from levels above 108.0 in the previous session, while the changed hands at $0.6989 after rising from the $0.696 handle yesterday.

Oil prices were higher in the afternoon of Asian trading hours, bouncing back from their Tuesday tumble. International benchmark Brent crude futures added 0.22% to $62.54 per barrel, while U.S. crude futures gained 0.32% to $56.43 per barrel.

The sharp decline in crude prices on Tuesday came despite the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies including Russia agreeing to extend supply curbs until next March.

"The market clearly expected a six month rollover and when OPEC and Russia came out and said 'we're gonna do a nine month rollover,' it indicated especially to me and the rest of the market that the oversupply situation is a little bit more serious than we thought and it's gonna take a little bit longer in order to get world inventories under control," Andy Lipow, president at Lipow Oil Associates, told CNBC's "Squawk Box" on Wednesday.

— CNBC's Fred Imbert contributed to this report.