S.Africa opposes online rhino horn auction

South Africa said Friday it would oppose an online auction of rhino horns due to start next week, as outraged conservationists said the sale would undermine the global ban on rhino trade.The three-day auction by South African John Hume, who runs the wo...

Australia to regulate virtual currency exchanges like Bitcoin

Australia is set to regulate virtual currency exchanges such as Bitcoin and strengthen the powers of its financial intelligence agency AUSTRAC as it cracks down on money laundering and terrorism financing.The changes came two weeks after AUSTRAC took t...

Fiat Chrysler an enticing takeover target for China

Italian-American car maker Fiat Chrysler Automobiles would be an alluring takeover target for a Chinese company, instantly putting it at the top rung of the US auto industry, analysts say.In July, a well-known but unnamed Chinese automaker made at leas...

Infosys chief quits in rift with founders

Vishal Sikka has resigned as chief executive of Infosys, the Indian software giant announced Friday, amid growing acrimony between the company's board and its founders.Sikka said the "increasingly personal" attacks had hit morale at the company, which ...

Asia shares extend global sell-off after Spain attack

Asia stocks extended a global sell-off Friday after a deadly Barcelona rampage claimed by the Islamic State jihadist group compounded mounting fears over policy paralysis in Washington.

Markets from Wall Street to Europe were caught in a renewed downturn after a deadly van attack in the Catalan capital killed 13 and injured more than 100 in a scene of chaos and horror.

Tokyo led the fall in regional stocks, slumping to its lowest close since early May, with the Nikkei also struggling in the face of the resurgent yen as the dollar sank in afternoon forex trade.

European stocks slid at the start of trading Friday, while in New York Thursday the S&P 500 Index had tumbled by its second-biggest drop of the year, with financial and technology shares among the worst performers.

US stocks had earlier been hit by rumours Donald Trump's economic advisor Gary Cohn would resign owing to unhappiness over the US president's response to a violent rally by racist groups in Charlottesville, although a White House source denied the claims.

Elsewhere in Asia-Pacific, Hong Kong was down in afternoon trade with the Hang Seng also dragged lower by Lenovo's plummeting share price after the Chinese tech giant posted a surprise quarterly loss.

Sydney and Seoul also fell while Shanghai ended flat.

"The attack in Spain and the rising doubt that Trump will be able to push through with his economic policies are among a series of unfortunate events that's creating uncertainty for investors to pullback and capitalise on their gains," said Jonathan Ravelas, the chief market strategist at BDO Unibank.

- '24/7 US political melodrama' -

Sentiment in the US was also dented after the White House Thursday said Trump had abandoned plans to form an advisory council on infrastructure, worsening business fears he will struggle to enact pledges to boost the economy.

Stock markets had been clawing back losses from last week's slump over fears of military clashes between North Korea and the US before the latest downturn hit.

Gold rose above $1,290 an ounce, while on forex markets the dollar was sliding towards 109 yen as safe haven assets received a boost from the renewed geopolitical tensions.

"The go to currency haven USD/JPY continues to sag... as investors remain unnerved by the 24/7 US political melodrama that's filling the airwaves," said Oanda analyst Stephen Innes.

"A very risk off scenario was evident overnight, and I suspect there could be more room for this move to play out as one should surmise we've only brushed the surface on the Cohn saga."

Investors will closely watch a Fed symposium starting on Thursday where the chiefs of the European and US central banks will speak, as they look for clues on policy-setting, analysts said.

On commodities markets, oil eked out modest gains Friday with US crude inching above $47 a barrel, following sharp losses earlier in the week on fears of a supply glut.

Traders continue to weigh US Energy Information Administration data Wednesday showing American production had its biggest weekly gain since the end of June even as stockpiles slid.

-- Bloomberg News contributed to this report --

- Key figures around 0820 GMT -

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: DOWN 1.2 percent at 19,470.41 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng: DOWN 1.1 percent at 27,047.57 (close)

Shanghai - Composite: UP less than 0.1 percent at 3,268.72 (close)

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.1733 from $1.1724

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.2886 from $1.2865

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 109.03 yen from 109.57 yen

Oil - West Texas Intermediate: UP 14 cents at $47.23 per barrel

Oil - Brent North Sea: UP 14 cents at $51.17

New York - Dow: DOWN 1.2 percent at 21,750.73 (close)

London - FTSE 100: DOWN 0.6 percent at 7,343.65 points

Street joints and empires in noodle-crazed Hong Kong

From decades-old holes in the wall to multi-million dollar businesses, Hong Kong's noodle scene is a moneyspinner in a city that runs on quick and affordable comfort food.Steaming bowls are served up 24 hours a day, often in clear richly flavoured brot...

In Lebanon, salt producers fear craft is drying up

At 93, Elias al-Najjar has spent half a century harvesting salt by hand from ponds on Lebanon's Mediterranean shore, but he and his colleagues fear their way of life is dying.Traditional coastal salt production was once popular in Lebanon, but the full...

US to sell pork to Argentina for first time since 1992

The White House announced an agreement with Argentina on Thursday that will allow American farmers to export pork to the South American nation for the first time in 25 years. The agreement to open the market potentially worth $10 million a year came af...

LNG tanker makes Arctic passage unaided

A tanker carrying liquefied natural gas has made the passage from Europe to Asia via the Arctic unaided, a maritime course that has become possible due to global warming, energy firm Total said Thursday.It is "the first commercial vessel to travel alon...

Wal-Mart profits fall as it ramps investment to fight Amazon

Discount retail giant Walmart updated investors Thursday on its latest gadgets and time-saving options aimed at luring shoppers away from arch-rival Amazon, but the efforts come at a cost. The good news? The company's array of investments in e-commerce...

ECB frets over stronger euro as stimulus exit nears

European Central Bank governors expressed concern over the strength of the euro at their last meeting in July, minutes showed on Thursday, complicating their attempts to ease away from stimulus without undermining the recovery.While the recent apprecia...

Sri Lanka cuts taxes to lift disaster-hit economy

Sri Lanka announced tax cuts and subsidised loans for small businesses and exporters Thursday, amid concerns a raging drought and flash flooding could drag on economic growth.Officials had warned the government's growth target of 5 percent was unlikely...

Wal-Mart reports lower profits but higher US sales

Wal-Mart's namesake US stores turned in another quarter of increased sales Thursday, although the retailing giant reported a drop in profits due to higher expenses.Walmart US, the biggest division at Wal-Mart Stores, scored a 1.8 percent rise in compar...

Three airlines interested in Air Berlin assets: CEO

Air Berlin is in talks with three competitors about buying up its assets, the insolvent airline's boss said Thursday, warning that not all jobs would be saved."Aside from Lufthansa, we are in contact with two other interested parties from the aviation ...

Asia fails to build on Wall Street lead as dollar languishes

The dollar slumped Thursday in the wake of dovish Federal Reserve minutes highlighting concern over inflation and crumbling corporate support for US President Donald Trump.The greenback was back below 110 yen as safe haven assets were reinvigorated, wi...

US stocks rise on dovish Fed minutes

US stocks finished higher Wednesday after Federal Reserve policymakers hinted at a slower pace to future interest rate hikes and retailers gained following a solid earnings report by Target.

The gains came as President Donald Trump disbanded a pair of business advisory boards after several chief executives resigned over the president's response to a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.1 percent to 22,024.87.

The broad-based S&P 500 advanced 0.1 percent to 2,468.11, while tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index rose 0.2 percent to 6,345.10.

Some Fed members argued the US central bank can afford to "be patient" before raising rates again, according to minutes of the July meeting that also showed policymakers remained befuddled by weak inflation that has persisted despite historically low unemployment.

Retailers, which have been in retreat much of the year, advanced after big box retailer Target reported that comparable store sales in the second quarter rose 1.3 percent compared with the year-ago amid increasing store traffic.

Target won 3.6 percent, while rivals Costco Wholesale and Wal-Mart Stores climbed 2.2 percent and 0.3 percent respectively.

Trump announced that he was ending a pair of CEO advisory councils amid a stampede of executive departures after the president's muted response to a white supremacist and neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville.

"For these CEOs it's becoming a distraction they don't need with very little benefit," said Jon Lieber, US practice head at risk consultancy Eurasia Group. Lieber said Republicans in Congress would still press on with tax reform, a key market priority.

J.J. Kinahan, chief market strategist at TD Ameritrade, said investors have already dismissed the possibility of tax cuts for 2017, but predicted there would be a "reckoning" if there no progress in 2018.

He said the White House's latest setbacks were not critical to investors.

"What drives the market is earnings and we have had pretty good earnings," Kinahan said. "The other stuff is noise."

US can ‘be patient’ in raising rates, Fed members say

US central bankers remain divided over inflation risks, and some argue they can afford to "be patient" before raising rates again, according to the minutes of the last policy meeting released Wednesday.The Federal Reserve had been expected to raise the...

US Fed can ‘be patient’ in raising rates: minutes

US central bankers remain divided over inflation risks, and some argue they can afford to "be patient" before raising rates again, according to the minutes of the last policy meeting released Wednesday.The Federal Reserve had been expected to raise the...

US new home construction slows in July

Homebuilding in the United States slowed in July, in large part due to a drop in construction of apartment buildings, the government reported Wednesday.The slowdown erased most of the gains recorded in a spike in June, and the pace of homebuilding has ...

Germany’s Flixbus rescues train start-up Locomore

Germany's leading long-distance bus operator Flixbus on Wednesday said it had joined forces with a Czech company to rescue the crowd-funded rail start-up Locomore and get its trains back on the rails.Services on the Berlin-Stuttgart line would resume o...