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Asian Shares Mixed In Cautious Trading

stockmarkets jan04 12aug20 lt

Asian stocks ended mixed in cautious trading on Wednesday as Russia's announcement that its coronavirus vaccine has been approved was offset by worries about a political holdup in Washington over coronavirus relief.

Chinese shares fell after central bank data showed the country's bank lending declined more than expected in July. Banks extended CNY 992.7 billion in loans in July, while economists had forecast bank lending to fall to CNY 1.2 trillion from CNY 1.81 trillion in June.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index shed 21.02 points, or 0.6 percent, to close at 3,319.27, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index jumped 353.34 points, or 1.4 percent, to 25,244.02.

Japanese shares eked out modest gains as a weaker yen boosted shares of exporters. The Nikkei 225 Index rose 93.72 points, or 0.4 percent, to 22,843.96, while the broader Topix index closed 1.2 percent higher at 1,605.53.

Toyota Motor, Honda Motor, Canon, Nissan Motor and Panasonic gained between 1.3 percent and 2 percent after U.S. Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell poured cold water on the prospects for a deal on a new pandemic aid bill.

SoftBank Group gave up 2.7 percent despite the company rebounding from a record loss to post a first quarter profit.

Australian markets finished marginally lower as virus fears deepened, with Victoria recording its highest overnight death toll from Covid-19. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index edge down 6.70 points, or 0.1 percent, to 6,132, while the broader All Ordinaries Index ended down 15.10 points, or 0.2 percent, at 6,257.

Newcrest Mining, Northern Star Resources and Regis Resources tumbled 3-5 percent after bullion prices plunged overnight amid a broader lift in risk appetite.

Evolution Mining lost 5.3 percent as it suspended operations at its Red Lake Gold mine in Canada due to a nearby forest fire.

Mining heavyweights BHP and Rio Tinto fell 0.7 percent and 1.4 percent, respectively. Transurban Group declined 1.1 percent as the toll road operator reported a loss and a 13 percent decrease in revenue for the year ended June 30.

Banks ANZ, NAB and Westpac rose about 2 percent each. Commonwealth Bank gave up half a percent after the country's largest lender reported an 11 percent decrease in cash net profit after tax for fiscal 2020 and said it has set aside A$2.5 billion for loan impairment expenses.

On the data front, wage prices in Australia were up 1.8 percent year-on-year in the second quarter of 2020, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said. That was shy of expectations for 1.9 percent and down from 2.1 percent in the three months prior.

Seoul stocks advanced for the eighth straight session to close at their highest level in more than two years amid hopes of vaccine development and an economic recovery. The benchmark Kospi climbed 13.68 points, or 0.6 percent, to 2,432.35, its highest close since June 12, 2018.

In economic news, South Korea's unemployment rate fell for a second month in July as business sentiment improved from the fallout of the coronavirus crisis, data from Statistics Korea revealed.

New Zealand shares tumbled as a shock re-emergence of the coronavirus sent the country's largest city into lockdown and the Reserve Bank of New Zealand said it would boost its large-scale asset purchase program, citing downside risks to the outlook. The benchmark NZX-50 Index ended down 153.41 points, or 1.3 percent, at 11,491.91.

U.S. stocks ended lower overnight after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said that the stimulus talks were at "a bit of a stalemate."

Investors also reacted to President Donald Trump's announcement about the possibility of a capital-gains tax cut and Russia's claim that it has developed a coronavirus vaccine.

The Dow eased 0.4 percent and the S&P 500 shed 0.8 percent, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index tumbled 1.7 percent.

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