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Asian Shares End Mixed In Choppy Trade

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Asian stocks ended mixed on Wednesday despite U.S. stocks hitting record highs overnight on expectations that a tax reform plan will get passed this year.

Chinese shares posted modest gains to finish near 20-month highs after a survey showed investors were optimistic about economic conditions in August.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite index inched up 4.66 points or 0.14 percent to 3,384.15 while Hong Kong's Hang Seng index was down 86 points or 0.31 percent at 27,881 in late trade.

Japanese shares rose for a third consecutive session as the dollar extended its sharp rally against the yen on easing concerns over North Korea and U.S. hurricanes. The Nikkei average rose 89.20 points or 0.45 percent to 19,865.82, while the broader Topix index closed up 0.61 percent at 1,637.33.

Exporters Hitachi and Panasonic jumped 3-4 percent. Apple supplier Nidec rallied 3.5 percent after Apple unveiled three new iPhones. Toshiba closed on a flat note after announcing a deal with a consortium to sell its prized chip business.

Australian shares closed marginally lower after two straight days of gains, helped by higher commodity prices and rising U.S. Treasury yields. Investors ignored encouraging consumer confidence figures from Westpac Bank and the Melbourne Institute.

Commonwealth Bank of Australia rose 0.8 percent after Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) Chairman Wayne Byers told a parliamentary committee the bank was "financially sound" despite alleged money-laundering breaches. ANZ and Westpac eked out modest gains while NAB shed 0.2 percent.

Mining heavyweights BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto climbed about 1 percent each after Chinese steel and iron ore futures regained some ground Tuesday following a five-day retreat.

CIMIC Group gained 0.8 percent after its Leighton Asia unit won an A$470 million sewer project in Singapore. PharmAust jumped as much as 8.6 percent on receiving a patent in Europe for the use of its lead drug monepantel as a cancer therapy.

Seoul shares ended a choppy session slightly lower amid selling by individual and foreign investors. The benchmark Kospi ended down 5.29 points or 0.22 percent at 2,360.18, dragged down by automakers. Tech stocks closed broadly higher, with LG Electronics climbing as much as 5.3 percent to 87,400 won.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index slid 12.98 points or 0.17 percent to 7,827.43 ahead of manufacturing PMI data slated for release on Thursday. Air New Zealand, Tower, Kathmandu Holdings and Sky Network Television lost 2-3 percent.

India's Sensex was rising half a percent despite dismal macroeconomic data. The Taiwan Weighted lost 0.7 percent, Singapore's Straits Times index was losing 0.2 percent, Malaysia's KLSE Composite index was declining 0.1 percent and Indonesia's Jakarta Composite index was moving down 0.4 percent.

U.S. stocks rose for a second straight session Tuesday as hopes of tax reform by year's end helped lift financials and tech stocks also gained ground amid Apple's highly-anticipated product launches. All three major indexes rose about 0.3 percent.

by RTT Staff Writer

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