Markets in Asia finished lower on Thursday, as the newly-boosted confidence in geopolitical relations seen earlier in the week continues to wane.
In Japan, the Nikkei 225 was down 0.12% at 21,660.28, as the yen weakened 0.37% against the dollar to last trade at JPY 107.19.

Carmakers and oil plays were lower, although earnings news helped to give consumer goods companies a minor boost, with the broader Topix finishing down 0.39% in Tokyo.

Retailer Aeon surged 4.06%, after it confirmed a 14% rise in annual profit year-on-year.

On the mainland, the Shanghai Composite sank 0.87% to 3,180.20, and the smaller, technology-heavy Shenzhen Composite lost 0.58% to 1,840.27.

South Korea's Kospi slipped just 0.06% to settle at 2,442.71, while the Hang Seng Index in Hong Kong was off 0.21% at 30,831.28.

In Seoul, the cosmetics sector was on the back foot, while oil plays and most of the technology sector was in the green.

Digital behemoth Samsung Electronics finished the day with its head 0.39% above the waterline.

On the policy front, the Bank of Korea stood pat on interest rates at 1.5% – a widely-anticipated move.

Asia's retreat on Thursday came after a weak session on Wall Street overnight, which itself was on the back of warnings from US president Donald Trump about the possibility of a missile strike on Syria.

Trump, using his favourite character-restricted press release medium, tweeted that Russia should “get ready” for a strike on the war-torn country, after reports of a likely chemical weapons attack emerged from the rebel-held Ghouta region in Syria's east.

“The missile tweet was sufficient to frighten the horses to some extent, dampening risk sentiment,” noted National Australia Bank director of economics David de Garis.

Trader focus on the possibility of such action in Syria also took their attention off the ongoing tit-for-tat war of trade words between the US and China.

Markets in the region had traded more positively earlier in the week, after Chinese president Xi Jinping suggested Beijing would work to further open up the economy of the People's Republic.

That sentiment began to turn on Wednesday, however, as investors began to lose patience for seeing concrete policy from that speech.

Trading in the region was also affected by the release of the Federal Open Market Committee's March meeting minutes on Wednesday.

They suggested that all policymakers at the Fed were expecting the US economy to keep growing, with an accompanying rise in inflation, underpinning the belief that further interest rate rises were on their way.

Oil prices were lower as the region went to bed, with Brent crude last down 0.56% at $71.66 per barrel, and West Texas Intermediate falling 0.48% to $66.50.

In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 slid 0.23% to 5,815.50, with gains in the energy and materials subindex more than offset by losses in industrials and the hefty financials sector, which was off 0.44%.

Across the Tasman Sea, New Zealand's S&P/NZX 50 was down 0.6% to 8,404.22, led lower once again by church donation technology provider Pushpay, which sank another 4.8%.

The down under dollars were mixed, with the Aussie last 0.12% weaker at AUD 1.2907, while the Kiwi strengthened 0.2% to NZD 1.3561.


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