Asian equity markets ended mixed on Wednesday after the release of strong China trade data. China's imports advanced 44.7 percent year-on-year in February, much bigger than the forecast of 23.1 percent while exports grew only 4.2 percent in yuan terms versus a 14.6 percent annual rise economists had forecast. As a result, the trade balance showed a deficit of CNY 60.4 billion in February compared to the expected surplus of CNY 172.5 billion. Separate data from the People's Bank of China revealed that China's foreign exchange reserves unexpectedly increased by $7 billion to $3.0 trillion in February, marking the first increase in eight months. Chinese shares ended lower as concerns over tighter liquidity offset data showing clear signs of increased domestic demand. Japanese shares ended lower as caution prevailed ahead of the ECB's policy meeting on Thursday, the US jobs report due on Friday and the March 14-15 Federal Open Market Committee meeting. Sentiment was also dampened after data showed the US trade deficit in January hit the highest level in nearly five years, underscoring the challenges facing Trump. However, the sentiment remained cautious amid losses on Wall Street overnight as risk appetite took a hit on rising geopolitical tensions in East Asia, with the arrival of the first components of a US-deployed controversial missile-defense system in South Korea. Meanwhile, the United Nations has called for calm between Malaysia and North Korea after the two banned each other's nationals from exiting their countries following the killing of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's half-brother.
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