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Asian Shares Mostly Higher In Cautious Trade

stockmarkets dec21 09jul20 lt

Asian stocks rose broadly on Thursday even as caution prevailed amid worries about the surge in coronavirus cases in the U.S. and other parts of the world.

Chinese shares posted strong gains to extend a winning streak into an eighth session despite state media warning traders to respect the market and manage risks. The benchmark Shanghai Composite index climbed 47.15 points, or 1.39 percent, to 3,450.59, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng index edged up 0.31 percent to 26,210.16.

Consumer prices in China were up 2.7 percent year on year in June, the National Bureau of Statistics said in a report today. That exceeded expectations for 2.5 percent and was up from 2.4 percent in May.

On a monthly basis, consumer prices were down 0.1 percent versus expectations for a flat reading following the 0.8 percent decline in the previous month.

The stats bureau also stated that producer prices tumbled an annual 3.7 percent - unchanged from the previous month's reading and missing expectations for a drop of 3.2 percent.

Japanese shares gained ground as the yen eased against the dollar on the back of better-than-expected machinery orders data. Markets ended off their day's highs as Tokyo confirmed more than 220 new coronavirus infections, exceeding its previous record.

The Nikkei average edged up 90.64 points, or 0.40 percent, to 22,529.29, while the broader Topix index finished little changed with a positive bias at 1,557.24.

Industrial robot maker Fanuc advanced 1.6 percent and Sony added 3.3 percent after an overnight surge in U.S. high-tech shares. Automaker Nissan Motor lost about 2 percent and Mazda Motor declined 1.4 percent.

FamilyMart jumped 22.8 percent after trading house Itochu announced plans to take full control of the convenience store chain.

Market heavyweight SoftBank Group surged 4.5 percent while Fast Retailing rose 0.4 percent. Eisai Co. gained 4.8 percent after launching its anti-insomnia drug Dayvigo in Japan.

The total value of core machine orders in Japan was up a seasonally adjusted 1.7 percent month on month, the Cabinet Office said - coming in at 765.0 billion yen. That beat expectations for a drop of 5.4 percent following the 12.0 percent slide in April.

On a yearly basis, core machine orders dropped 16.3 percent - beating expectations for a decline of 17.1 percent following the 17.7 percent fall in the previous month.

Australian markets advanced, led by resources stocks. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index inched up 35.20 points, or 0.59 percent, to 5,955.50 as Melbourne went back into lockdown in response to a spike in new coronavirus infections. The broader All Ordinaries index ended up 40.60 points, or 0.67 percent, at 6,074.90.

Mining giants BHP and Rio Tinto gained 2-3 percent. Gold miner Evolution Mining soared 4.3 percent, St Barbara added 1.9 percent and Newcrest Mining advanced 1.7 percent as bullion soared past the technical $1,800 threshold.

Energy stocks snapped four consecutive session of losses, with Woodside Petroleum and Santos rising around 4 percent.

Market darling Afterpay surged 11.4 percent after Morgan Stanley more than doubled the price target on the stock.

Industrial engineering firm Worley rallied 3.3 percent after it bought out Spanish urban transport company Ferrovial's half-stake in TW Power Services for $20 million.

Treasury Wine Estates fell 2.9 percent after the company said it is exploring the sale of some of its brands and assets in the U.S.

On the economic front, a government report showed the total value of owner-occupied home loans issued in Australia tumbled a seasonally adjusted 10.2 percent month on month in May. That missed expectations for a fall of 7.5 percent and followed the 5.0 percent decline in April.

Seoul stocks eked out modest gains as the Nasdaq Composite index set another record high overnight despite record daily number of virus cases. The benchmark Kospi rose 9.02 points, or 0.42 percent, to 2,167.90.

New Zealand shares tumbled, with the benchmark NZX 50 index falling 266.39 points, or 2.28 percent, to 11,440.88. Energy utility Contact Energy plunged as much as 14 percent and Meridian Energy slumped 10.8 percent after Rio Tinto said it will close its aluminium smelter operation in New Zealand due to high costs and a challenging market.

U.S. stocks rose overnight even as coronavirus cases continued to rise, causing many regions to pause or reverse their reopening plans.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.7 percent, the S&P 500 advanced 0.8 percent and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite added 1.4 percent.

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