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Asian Shares Mixed With Stimulus In Focus

stockmarkets jan18 11aug20 lt

Asian stocks ended mixed on Tuesday as investors kept an eye on rising U.S.-China tensions and ongoing stimulus talks in Washington.

Chinese stocks ended sharply lower as investors awaited a meeting between top U.S. and Chinese trade officials on Saturday to review the first six months of the Phase 1 trade deal.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index tumbled 38.96 points, or 1.2 percent, to 3,340.29, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index surged up 513.25 points, or 2.1 percent, to 24,890.68.

Japanese shares posted strong gains as traders returned from a holiday. The Nikkei 225 Index jumped 420.30 points, or 1.9 percent, to 22,750.24, while the broader Topix closed 2.5 percent higher at 1,585.96.

Exporters Canon, Toyota Motor, Panasonic and Honda Motor surged 3-6 percent as the yen softened despite rising U.S.-China tensions. Market heavyweight SoftBank Group fell 2.5 percent.

In the tech space, Advantest rose 2.5 percent and Screen Holdings advanced 4.3 percent. Banks Mitsubishi UFJ Financial, Mizuho Financial and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial climbed 4-5 percent.

In economic news, Japan had a current account surplus of 167.5 billion yen in June, down 86.6 percent year-on-year, a government report showed. That beat expectations for a surplus of 110 billion yen following the 1,176.8 billion yen surplus in May.

Exports were down 25.7 percent on year to 4.793 trillion yen, while imports sank an annual 14.4 percent to 4.870 trillion yen. The trade deficit was 77.3 billion yen in June following the 556.8 billion yen deficit in May.

Australian markets hit a three-week high before ending off their day's highs. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index ended up 28.50 points, or 0.5 percent, at 6,138.70, as the country's second-most populous state reported only a small rise in new Covid-19 infections. The broader All Ordinaries Index rose 25 points, or 0.4 percent, to 6,272.10.

Australia's largest lender, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, gained 1 percent ahead of its annual results due on Wednesday. The other three major banks ended up between 1.8 percent and 2.7 percent.

Mining heavyweights BHP and Rio Tinto rose about 0.9 percent. Gold miner Evolution Mining slumped 5.3 percent, Newcrest lost 2.8 percent and Regis Resources gave up 3.4 percent as bullion prices retreated from a record high hit in the previous session.

Building materials giant James Hardie Industries soared 6.8 percent after it forecast a potential rise in full-year profit.

Energy companies ended broadly higher after crude oil prices advanced overnight. Sydney Airport shares entered a trading halt after the company initiated a A$2 billion equity raising.

Seoul stocks rose sharply to their highest level in over two years, as investors shrugged off bleak export data and shifted focus to signs of a slowdown in new coronavirus infections in several countries. The benchmark Kospi rallied 32.29 points, or 1.4 percent, to 2,418.67, led by technology stocks.

Earlier in the day, customs official data showed that exports contracted 23.6 percent from last year in the first 10 days of August, while imports declined 24.3 percent.

New Zealand shares ended modestly lower, with the benchmark NZX-50 Index dropping 38.12 points, or 0.3 percent, to 11,645.32. Fletcher Building fluctuated before ending 0.3 percent higher after the country's largest construction firm warned of an annual net loss.

The total value of credit card spending in New Zealand added a seasonally adjusted 1.2 percent sequentially in June (1.1 percent unadjusted), Statistics New Zealand said today. That was well shy of expectations for a gain of 13.8 percent following the 16.3 percent jump in June.

On a yearly basis, credit card spending climbed 11.4 percent after rising 8.0 percent in the previous month.

Singapore's Straits Times Index closed marginally lower. The country's gross domestic product fell an annual 13.2 percent in the second quarter of 2020, the Ministry of Trade and Industry said in a report.

That was in line with expectations following the upwardly revised 0.3 percent contraction in the three months prior (originally -0.7 percent).

U.S. stocks ended mixed overnight as President Donald Trump signed executive orders aimed at extending coronavirus relief to Americans and Beijing announced it would sanction 11 U.S. citizens in response to similar measures from Washington.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rallied 1.3 percent and the S&P 500 edged up 0.3 percent to reach their best closing levels in over five months, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite index shed 0.4 percent.

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