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Asian Shares Mostly Higher In Cautious Trade

asianmarkets2 dec19 28sep20 lt

Asian stocks rose broadly on Monday, though gains were tempered by concerns over rising coronavirus cases and escalating tensions between Washington and Beijing.

A cautious undertone prevailed as U.S. President Donald Trump and former vice-president Joe Biden prepare to square off in their first pre-election debate on Tuesday.

Chinese shares finished marginally lower despite the latest industrial profits data pointing to a continued recovery in the world's second-largest economy.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng index gained 240.63 points, or 1 percent, to finish at 23,476.05. China's biggest chipmaker Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp lost 3.9 percent after Washington reportedly ordered U.S. companies to seek permission before selling their technologies to the company, marking the latest salvo in the battle for tech dominance between the superpowers.

Japanese shares rose despite rising U.S.-China tensions. The Nikkei 225 Index jumped 307 points, or 1.3 percent, to 23,511.62, while the broader Topix closed 1.7 percent higher at 1,661.93. Market heavyweight SoftBank Group surged up 2.9 percent and Fast Retailing added 1 percent.

Toshiba Corp. shares tumbled 3.2 percent after Kioxia Holdings Corp., the world's second-largest flash memory chipmaker, said it would postpone plans for an initial public offering. Tokyo Electron and Advantest ended down around 1.8 percent each.

Australian markets swung between gains and losses before finishing modestly lower despite some positive news on the coronavirus front.

Victoria, the country's second-most populous state and the epicenter of the Covid-19 outbreak, announced plans to ease social distancing restrictions after the state recorded its lowest number of new infections in more than three months.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 dropped 12.60 points, or 0.2 percent, to 5,952.30, while the broader All Ordinaries index ended down 5.60 points at 6,134.90.

The big four banks fell between 0.8 percent and 1.3 percent on bets the Reserve Bank may cut interest rates next week. Mining heavyweights BHP and Rio Tinto ended down 1.3 percent and 1.5 percent, respectively.

Airline stocks gained ground, with Qantas surging 6.4 percent after the federal government said it would extend subsidies for airlines operating flights on key domestic and regional routes. Tech stocks also rose broadly, with Afterpay climbing 5.1 percent.

Gold miners Evolution Mining, Newcrest and Northern Star Resources rallied 1-3 percent despite gold prices hitting two-month lows on Friday.

Seoul stocks posted strong gains as investors sought bargains following strong advances in U.S. tech giants, such as Apple, Microsoft and Tesla on Friday. The benchmark Kospi jumped 29.29 points, or 1.3 percent, to close at 2,308.08.

Internet portal giant Naver rose 1.2 percent and its rival Kakao spiked 5 percent. Hyundai Motor, the country's largest automaker, soared 3.2 percent and leading pharmaceutical firm Samsung Biologics advanced 1.5 percent.

New Zealand shares reversed early losses to end little changed with a positive bias. A2 Milk shares slumped 9.7 percent after the dairy producer forecast lower first-half revenue.

U.S. stocks rallied on Friday as investors pinned hopes on fresh fiscal stimulus and data showed new orders for key U. S.-made capital goods increased more than expected in August.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite soared as much as 2.3 percent, while the Dow rose 1.3 percent and the S&P 500 added 1.6 percent.

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