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Asian stocks dip on new U.S.-China fears, pre-CPI caution -- Most Asian stocks traded in a flat-to-low range on Thursday as the U.S. government outlined new restrictions on technology investments in China, while anticipation of a key U.S. inflation reading also kept sentiment subdued.

A mixed batch of earnings reports released this week also dampened spirits, as weak quarterly prints from Sony Corp (TYO:6758) and SoftBank Group Corp (TYO:9984) pointed to a persistent technology downturn.

But this was somewhat offset by strong automaker and bank earnings from Japan and Australia.

Focus was now squarely on U.S. consumer price index data due later in the day, with markets turning risk-averse on fears of a potentially stronger reading for July.

Chinese stocks dip on fresh U.S. restrictions

China’s Shanghai Shenzhen CSI 300 and Shanghai Composite indexes fell slightly on Thursday after three straight days of losses, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index fell 0.6%.

U.S. President Joe Biden on Wednesday signed an executive order that will block some new investment in Chinese technologies such as semiconductors and other tech-related sectors. The move is the latest in an ongoing tech-related trade tiff between the world’s largest economies, and could invite more retaliatory measures from China.

Pressure on China’s tech sector also comes at a time when the Chinese economy is struggling with a post-COVID economic rebound, as seen from a slew of weak trade and inflation readings this week.

A rout in Chinese property stocks extended into a sixth straight session after major Country Garden Holdings (HK:2007) said it had missed some bond payments, raising concerns over a bigger default in the sector.

Japanese stocks edge higher amid mixed earnings, inflation risks

Japan’s Nikkei 225 index rose 0.4%, buoyed by a 5% jump in Honda Motor (TYO:7267) after the automaker clocked a strong June quarter on rising U.S. car sales.

But bigger gains in the Nikkei were held back by a 5.3% drop in Sony (NYSE:SONY), as the tech and media conglomerate reported weak earnings and flagged a downturn in the smartphone market.

Data on Thursday also showed that Japanese producer inflation rose slightly more than expected in the 12 months to July, indicating that inflationary pressures in Asia’s second-largest economy were now picking up.

Broader Asian markets were muted, with South Korea’s KOSPI losing 0.2% on losses in heavyweight tech stocks. The Taiwan Weighted index slid over 1% on tech losses, with chipmakers and smartphone component producers coming under renewed pressure.

Australia’s ASX 200 index rose slightly and was headed for a third day of gains, following positive earnings from Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX:CBA), the country’s biggest lender.

Futures for India’s Nifty 50 index pointed to a weak open, as investors locked in recent profits ahead of potentially hawkish signals from a Reserve Bank meeting later in the day.

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