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Asian Shares Recover From Losses To End Mostly Higher


Asian stocks ended mostly higher on Wednesday as China's response to a virus outbreak tempered some fears of a global pandemic.

The World Health Organization is expected to declare a Public Health Emergency of International Concern in response to the coronavirus outbreak, which appears to have originated in eastern China and spread to more Chinese cities, including Beijing and Shanghai.

Chinese shares reversed early losses to end the session higher. The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index rose 8.61 points, or 0.3 percent, to 3,060.75, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index jumped 355.71 points, or 1.3 percent, to 28,341.04.

Japanese shares also recovered from an early slide to end notably higher as panic about the coronavirus in China abated. The Nikkei 225 Index climbed 166.79 points, or 0.7 percent, to 24,031.35, while the broader Topix closed 0.5 percent higher at 1,744.13.

Hygiene-related stocks gained ground, with Azearth, a supplier of protective attire, surging 24 percent. Fibre-maker Omikenshi soared almost 10 percent and air conditioning manufacturing company Daikin Industries rallied 2.3 percent.

On the flip side, Mitsubishi Motors lost 4.2 percent after reports of raids on its German distributors as part of a probe into suspected diesel emissions cheating involving Mitsubishi cars.

Australian markets rallied to reach fresh highs, driven by gains in financials. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index jumped 66.40 points, or 0.9 percent, to 7,132.70, while the broader All Ordinaries Index surged up 68.50 points, or 1 percent, to 7,249.

Banks ANZ and Commonwealth rose 0.8 percent and 1.2 percent, respectively. National Australia Bank, which is facing a class action lawsuit, ended on a flat note.

Mining giant Rio Tinto advanced 0.9 percent. Smaller rival Fortescue Metals Group surged over 5 percent to extend gains for the fifth session after Credit Suisse upgraded the stock to Neutral.

Oil & gas producer Santos gained 0.8 percent after posting record annual production. Airline stocks slipped amid growing coronavirus fears, with Qantas Airways losing 2 percent.

Australia's consumer confidence declined in January as devastating bushfires weighed on the economic growth outlook, survey data from Westpac showed today. The Westpac-Melbourne Institute Index of Consumer Sentiment declined 1.8 percent to 93.4 in January from 95.1 in December.

Seoul stocks ended sharply higher after data showed South Korea's government spending surge helped the economy post its fastest quarterly growth in more than two years. The benchmark Kospi rallied 27.56 points, or 1.2 percent, to finish at 2,267.25.

GDP climbed a seasonally adjusted 1.2 percent in the fourth quarter of 2019, the Bank of Korea said in a preliminary reading. That beat forecasts for an increase of 1.0 percent and accelerated from the 0.4 percent gain in the three months prior.

New Zealand shares rose notably, with the benchmark S&P/NZX 50 Index ending up 84.54 points, or 0.7 percent, at 11,889.68. A2 Milk Co shares surged more than 4 percent after global dairy prices rose by 1.7 percent at the Global Dairy Trade auction.

Meanwhile, Malaysia's KLSE Composite Index fell 0.6 percent. A government report revealed that the country's consumer price inflation rose 1.0 percent year-on-year in December following a 0.9 percent increase in November. This was in line with economists' expectation.

U.S. stocks pulled back from record highs overnight as investors fretted about the economic impact of a deadly coronavirus outbreak in China.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped half a percent, the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite slid 0.2 percent and the S&P 500 eased 0.3 percent.

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