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Asian Shares Mixed Ahead Of Tariff Deadline, UK Election

asian mixed 12dec19 lt

Asian stocks ended mixed on Thursday as investors exercised caution ahead of a U.S.-China tariff deadline and the closely watched British election, with polls predicting a narrow Conservative win.

Chinese shares ended lower to snap a five-day winning streak ahead of Trump's tariff decision. The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index dropped 8.72 points, or 0.3 percent, to 2,915.70. Meanwhile, Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index jumped 348.71 points, or 1.3 percent, to 26,994.14.

Japanese shares ended roughly flat as a deadline for an additional round of U.S. tariffs on Chinese imports loomed and machinery orders data disappointed. The Nikkei 225 Index edged up 32.95 points, or 0.1 percent, to 23,424.81, while the broader Topix closed 0.1 percent lower at 1,712.83.

The total value of core machinery orders in Japan was down a seasonally adjusted 6.0 percent sequentially in October, the Cabinet Office said. That missed forecasts for an increase of 0.7 percent following the 2.9 percent decline in September.

On a yearly basis, core machine orders sank 6.1 percent - again missing expectations for a drop of 1.9 percent following the 5.1 percent jump in the previous month.

Uncertainties over the global outlook continue to warrant attention and the Bank of Japan is cautious about future developments, BoJ deputy governor Masayoshi Amamiya told business leaders in Okayama.

Semiconductor firms followed their U.S. peers higher after the Philadelphia Semiconductor Index rose more than 2 percent on Wednesday. Advantest, Sumco and Tokyo Electron soared 3-5 percent.

Otsuka Kagu jumped nearly 31 percent on reports that electrical appliance store chain Yamada Denki Co. will buy a majority stake in the troubled furniture store chain operator.

Australian markets fell notably, dragged down by financials. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index dropped 43.80 points, or 0.7 percent, to 6,708.80, while the broader All Ordinaries Index ended down 42.40 points, or 0.6 percent, at 6,810.80.

Westpac Banking Corp declined 1.2 percent as its board faced intense scrutiny over the money laundering and child exploitation scandal at a marathon annual general meeting. The other three banks fell between 0.7 percent and 1.3 percent.

Energy stocks finished broadly lower after a surprise climb in U.S. crude inventories hit oil prices. Oil and gas explorer FAR slumped 24 percent after it completed a A$146 million placement to fund development of a Senegal oil field project.

On the other hand, Lynas Corp soared 9.7 percent after Reuters reported that the U.S. Army plans to make its first financial investment into commercial-scale rare earths production since World War Two.

Seoul stocks rose for a fifth straight session, helped by massive foreign buying after the Federal Reserve signaled it would stay on hold through 2020.

The benchmark Kospi jumped 31.73 points, or 1.5 percent, to 2,137.35, with tech stocks Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix surging around 3 percent.

New Zealand shares fluctuated before finishing marginally higher, with the benchmark S&P/NZX 50 Index edging up 16.02 points, or 0.1 percent, to 11,307.98.

New Zealand food prices declined for the second straight month in November, Statistics NZ reported today. Food prices dropped 0.7 percent on a monthly basis following a 0.3 percent decrease in October.

U.S. stocks edged marginally higher overnight after the Federal Reserve left interest rates unchanged, as widely expected, and indicated it would not tighten monetary policy prematurely.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average crept up 0.1 percent, the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite gained 0.4 percent and the S&P 500 added 0.3 percent.

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