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Asia: Markets fall on Trump impeachment move, trade fears

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Asian stock markets fell on Wednesday after US Democrats launched formal impeachment proceedings against Donald Trump and on renewed worries about trade as the president adopted a hard line on China.

[HONG KONG] Asian stock markets fell on Wednesday after US Democrats launched formal impeachment proceedings against Donald Trump and on renewed worries about trade as the president adopted a hard line on China.

In a dramatic move, House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi announced a formal impeachment inquiry after US markets closed.

Democrats accuse Mr Trump of abuse of power in a reported attempt to pressure the newly installed president of Ukraine to open a corruption investigation into his lead challenger for the White House, Joe Biden, and Mr Biden's son Hunter.

Mr Trump denounced the inquiry as "Witch Hunt garbage" and said he would release a transcript of his phone call with Volodymyr Zelensky.

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Market voices on:

"The impeachment hearing announcement delivered a knock-out blow to stocks markets already weak at the knees," Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst at Oanda, said in a note.

Concern over US political turmoil added to worries over international trade after Mr Trump ripped into China at the UN, declaring that the time of Beijing's "abuses" of the system was "over."

Touting what he argued were the benefits of his tariff war with China, Mr Trump reiterated his hope that a trade agreement "beneficial to both countries" could be struck.

"But as I said very clearly, I will not accept a bad deal for the American people," he said.

"Trump's speech at the United Nations lacked any semblance of endearment towards China, but instead, he used this opportunity to reignite US-China tensions while renewing his attacks on America's largest technology companies," said Stephen Innes, Asia Pacific market strategist at AxiTrader.

Tokyo slipped 0.5 per cent, while Hong Kong and Shanghai both dropped 0.4 per cent.

Oil prices took a hit, with both main contracts down 0.6 per cent following Mr Trump's tough talk on China and after data indicating a build up in US crude inventories.

In currency trading, the pound slipped against the dollar in Asia. It had rallied on Tuesday following Britain's Supreme Court ruling that Prime Minister Boris Johnson's suspension of parliament was "unlawful", providing a spark of hope that Brexit will be more orderly than previously feared.

"The ensuing British Pound rally was a bit underwhelming. It probably reflected the uncertainty of both Mr Johnson's tenure and the Brexit process with October the 31st looming," said Oanda's Halley.

AFP