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Asian Shares Mixed Despite Wall Street Rally

stockmarkets jan18 13aug20 lt

Asian stocks ended mixed on Thursday as investors weighed signs of economic recovery against stalled U.S. stimulus talks.

Chinese shares ended on a flat note after U.S. President Donald Trump played down the importance of the phase one trade deal ahead of a review between top U.S. and Chinese officials.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index finished marginally higher at 3,320.73, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index edged slightly lower to close at 25,230.67.

Japanese shares hit a six-month high, with chip-related companies surging on expectations of U.S. stimulus and hopes of a recovery in the global manufacturing sector.

The Nikkei 225 Index jumped 405.65 points, or 1.8 percent, to 23,249.61, the highest level since February 21. The broader Topix closed 1.2 percent higher at 1,624.15, closing in on its June peak.

Chip equipment maker Tokyo Electron rallied 3.1 percent, Murata Manufacturing advanced 2.6 percent, Advantest surged 4.3 percent and Screen Holdings added 3.2 percent. Dai-ichi Life Holdings rose 3.3 percent on share buyback news.

Market heavyweight SoftBank Group climbed 3.7 percent and Fast Retailing added 2 percent.

Australian markets fell notably, with mixed jobs data and weak earnings results from telecommunications giant Telstra dampening sentiment.

Australia's unemployment data for July showed an uptick in the unemployment rate as well as a surge in employment.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index dropped 41 points, or 0.7 percent, to 6,091 despite Victoria recording 8 new coronavirus deaths and 278 cases, the lowest number in more than three weeks. The broader All Ordinaries Index ended down 33.10 points, or 0.5 percent, at 6,223.90.

The big four banks fell between 1.3 percent and 2.6 percent. Wealth manager AMP soared 10.9 percent after it sought to return A$544 million ($390.32 million) to shareholders through a special dividend and buyback.

AGL Energy slumped 9.6 percent after the country's top power producer forecast an unexpectedly steep further slide in benchmark profit this coming year.

Gold miners rose as the precious metal recovered from its worst fall in seven years. Newcrest Mining gained 1.1 percent ahead of its annual results due on Friday, while Evolution Mining jumped 3.3 percent after reporting a jump in underlying profit.

Energy stocks ended on a mixed note. Telstra plunged 8.3 percent as the telecommunications giant reported a 14 percent decrease in full-year profit and extended its pause on planned job cuts to February next year.

Seoul stocks ended a choppy session modestly higher. The benchmark Kospi edged up 5.18 points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,437.53. Drugmaker Celltrion rose 2.2 percent after it began selling Covid-19 diagnostic kits in the United States.

Online game developer NCSOFT jumped 5.5 percent after its second quarter net income rose 36 percent from a year earlier on the back of the continued popularity of its mobile game Lineage 2M.

New Zealand shares gave up early gains to finish marginally higher, a day after the Reserve Bank of New Zealand surprised markets by expanding its bond-buying program.

Food prices in New Zealand were up 4.2 percent year-on-year in July, Statistics New Zealand said today, up from 4.1 percent in June. On a monthly basis, food prices were up a seasonally adjusted 0.6 percent, 1.2 percent unadjusted.

U.S. stocks rallied overnight as investors cheered signs of slowing coronavirus infections and remained optimistic about a stimulus package from Congress.

The Dow rose 1.1 percent, the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite soared 2.1 percent and the S&P 500 surged 1.4 percent.

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