Asian stocks closed on a muted note Friday as trade war concerns resurfaced and investors looked ahead to the release of U.S. jobs data for May, due later in the day for direction.

China's Shanghai Composite index fell 20.34 points or 0.66 percent to 3,075.14 even as global index provider MSCI Inc. added around 230 mainland-listed Chinese stocks to its flagship Emerging Markets Index and other indexes. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index closed little changed at 30,492.91.

On the data front, China's manufacturing activity expanded at a steady pace in May, survey data from IHS Markit showed. The Caixin Purchasing Managers' index remained unchanged at 51.1 while analysts expected it to rise to 51.2.

Japanese shares ended a choppy session slightly lower as fears of a global trade war resurfaced and U.S. President Donald Trump downplayed the chances of reaching a quick resolution with North Korea in the upcoming summit.

The Nikkei average swung between gains and losses before ending down 30.47 points or 0.14 percent at 22,171.35. The broader Topix index finished marginally higher at 1,749.17.

While market heavyweight Fast Retailing dropped 1.7 percent, automaker Mazda Motor rose 1.2 percent and Toyota Motor climbed 2.9 percent on a weaker yen.

Olympus Corp soared 4.0 percent after activist investor ValueAct Capital became a major shareholder in the medical equipment and camera maker.

Earlier in the day, upon arrival for a meeting of finance ministers and central bank governors of the Group of Seven advanced economies, Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda has called for "rational" debate to prevent protectionist trade measures from disrupting the global .

Investors also looked ahead to a meeting between Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the White House on June 7.

On the data front, the latest survey from Nikkei revealed that the manufacturing sector in Japan continued to expand in May, albeit at a slower rate, with a manufacturing PMI score of 52.8.

Separately, a government report showed that capital spending in Japan grew 3.4 percent in the first quarter of 2018, exceeding expectations for 3.1 percent, but slowing from 4.3 percent in the previous three months.

Australian shares fell modestly, with banks falling heavily as ANZ faced criminal cartel charges relating to 2015 equity placement.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index dropped 21.50 points or 0.36 percent to 5,990.40 while the broader All Ordinaries index ended down 19.50 points or 0.32 percent at 6,104.

ANZ shares fell 1.5 percent while the other three banks ended down between 0.4 percent and 0.9 percent. Mining heavyweight Rio Tinto, which has aluminium smelters in Canada, shed 0.6 percent while rival BHP Billiton advanced 0.9 percent.

Woodside Petroleum, Santos, Oil Search and Beach Energy all fell around 1 percent after crude oil prices declined almost 2 percent overnight. Healthcare stocks bucked the weak trend, with Cochlear climbing 3.7 percent and Sonic Healthcare closing up 1 percent.

Australia's manufacturing activity maintained strong growth momentum in May despite easing from April, survey data published by the Australian Industry Group showed. The corresponding index dropped to 57.5 from 58.3 in the previous month.

Seoul stocks closed higher after data showed South Korea's exports posted a double-digit growth in May, rebounding from a brief dip in the previous month.

Investors also digested other reports on manufacturing, first-quarter GDP and inflation. The benchmark Kospi rose 15.95 points or 0.66 percent to 2,438.96, led by bio and auto stocks.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index dropped 22.63 points or 0.26 percent to 8,636.16 after the release of mixed economic data.

While a gauge of consumer confidence in New Zealand improved slightly in May, the country's terms of trade declined 1.9 percent sequentially in the first three months of 2018, separate reports showed.

Synlait Milk shares fell 2.6 percent after the dairy products maker signaled higher raw material costs.

India's Sensex was down 0.1 percent and Singapore's Straits Times index was moving down marginally while the Taiwan Weighted advanced 0.7 percent.

The Malaysian and Indonesian were closed in observance of the King's Birthday and Pancasila Day, respectively.

Overnight, U.S. stocks finished solidly lower amid renewed trade concerns after a Trump administration announcement of tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Canada, Mexico and the European Union.

Investors also digested a slew of economic data on jobless claims, personal income, personal spending and pending home sales.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 1 percent and the S&P 500 shed 0.7 percent while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite eased 0.3 percent.

by P2PNews Staff Writer

editorial@p2pnews.com

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