Asian stocks closed mostly lower, as shares of Samsung Group were in focus after the arrest of its chief. Jay Y. Lee was arrested on Friday, over his alleged role in the corruption scandal that prompted South Korea's parliament to impeach President Park Geun-hye.

South Korea's Kospi finished nearly flat at 2,080.58. Samsung Electronics dropped 0.4 percent at 1,893,000 Korean won. Shares of Samsung SDI rose 0.8 percent, Samsung Electro-Mechanics added 0.8 percent, Samsung C&T shed two percent while Samsung Engineering was down 1.2 percent. Japan's Nikkei 225 retreated 0.58 percent to 19,234.62 and the Topix slid 0.42 percent to 1,544.54. Sharp bucked the trend and finished 2.80 percent higher at 331 yen, after the Japanese electronics firm revised its earnings estimates.

Australia's ASX 200 was down 0.18 percent at 5,805, as major resource producers declined more than one percent each. China's Shanghai composite fell 0.86 percent to 3,201.96 while the Shenzhen composite dropped 0.66 percent to 1,945.10. Hong Kong's Hang Seng was trading 0.5 percent lower.

2017.07.21 04:11:00 UTC+00

Crude Prices Flat Ahead of OPEC Meeting

Oil prices were trading flat ahead of an important convention of major oil exporting nations next week, hovering below the $50 per barrel mark that was briefly hit for the first time in 6 weeks in the preceding session.

International benchmark Brent crude futures traded down 1 cent at $49.29 per barrel, while U.S. WTI crude futures stood at $46.91 per barrel, falling by also 1 cent.

In the previous trading session, both benchmarks climbed to their peak levels since early June, bolstered by data showing a huge drawdown in U.S. crude and fuel stockpiles. According to ANZ, the effect of the solid decline in inventories reported earlier this week was still lingering in the market.

Despite the decline, U.S. oil inventories continue to to be significantly above the five-year average, while U.S. production has risen by around 12 percent since mid-2016 to 9.4 million bpd.

The brimming global supplies has put pressure on oil prices and top members of OPEC are slated to meet non-members in Russia on monday regarding a deal they had made last year to lower production.

Gold prices held steady early on Friday, poised for a second straight weekly gain after easing from a three-week peak that was reached in the session earlier.

Spot gold fell 0.04 percent to $1,243.80 an ounce after hitting a three-week peak of $1,247.48 per ounce in the session earlier. It had increased by nearly 1.3 percent for the week so far.

U.S. gold futures for August delivery dropped 0.15 percent to $1,243.60 an ounce.

The dollar was on track for weekly losses on Friday, wavering at its lowest levels against the euro in almost two years.

Holdings of the world's biggest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, SPDR Gold Shares, dropped to their lowest level since early February.

India's Paytm is planning to sell five tonnes of gold valued almost $200 million this year, according to the digital payments company.

The euro held near two-year peaks versus the dollar on Friday after European Central Bank President Mario Draghi said policy makers will discuss changing its bond purchasing programme in the autumn.

Investors took Draghi's comments on Thursday as confirming expectations that the talks will lead to monetary tightening in 2018.

The euro stood at $1.1630, holding firm to its one percent gain on Thursday, its largest since June 27, when Draghi initially fueled expectations that the ECB will wind back its bond buying scheme.

The dollar's index with a basket of major currencies hit its lowest level since August on Thursday.

Against the yen, the dollar touched a three-week low of 111.48 yen on Thursday. Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda did not drop any hints of following other central banks in curtailing several years of stimulus. It last stood at 111.87 yen.

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Jul 23 at 18:37 UTC

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