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Asian Shares End Mixed In Cautious Trading

asianmarket 021219 16oct20 lt

Asian stocks ended mixed on Friday as uncertainty about new U.S. fiscal stimulus coupled with the resurgence in coronavirus cases in Europe stoked concerns about a global economic recovery.

A stalemate in U.S. stimulus negotiations continued despite President Donald Trump's offer to increase the size of a fiscal stimulus package.

Chinese shares rose slightly as investors looked ahead to the release of third-quarter GDP data next week. The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index edged up 4.18 points, or 0.1 percent, to 3,336.36, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index climbed 228.25 points, or 0.9 percent, to 24,386.79.

Japanese shares retreated as coronavirus infections climbed across Europe, raising concerns about the outlook for a global economic recovery. Expectations of new stimulus measures by the government and Fast Retailing's upbeat annual earnings forecast helped limit the downside to some extent.

The Nikkei 225 Index dropped 96.60 points, or 0.4 percent, to 23,410.63, while the broader Topix ended 0.9 percent lower at 1,617.69.

Heavyweight Fast Retailing jumped 4.3 percent. The operator of the Uniqlo and GU casual clothing brands, reported a 44 percent drop in profit for the year ended August 2020 but projected a record net profit for the current fiscal year.

Fujifilm Holdings advanced 2.5 percent after saying it was seeking to have its flu drug Avigan approved in Japan as a treatment for Covid-19.

Australian markets fell as lower iron ore prices amid waning hopes for additional U.S. fiscal stimulus pulled down mining stocks.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index dropped 33.50 points, or 0.5 percent, to 6,176.80, while the broader All Ordinaries Index ended down 29.20 points, or 0.5 percent, at 6,385.

Mining giant Rio Tinto shed 0.9 percent after it reported a 4.6 percent drop in third quarter iron ore shipments. Rival BHP lost 1.4 percent.

Banks ANZ and Westpac fell 0.3 percent and 0.6 percent, respectively. Healthcare stocks ended broadly lower, with CSL losing 0.7 percent and Cochlear declining 1.5 percent.

Meanwhile, pump manufacturer GUD Holdings surged 6.3 percent after reporting strong quarterly sales figures.

Seoul stocks fell for the fourth straight session as the Covid-19 pandemic continued to spread in the United States and Europe. The benchmark Kospi slid 19.68 points, or 0.8 percent, to 2,341.53, led by losses in tech and auto exporters. SK Hynix lost 2.1 percent and Hyundai Motor declined 2.3 percent.

South Korea's unemployment rate rose in September as the coronavirus pandemic weighed on the labor market, official data showed.

The jobless rate rose to a seasonally adjusted 3.9 percent in September from 3.2 percent in August. The number of unemployed increased to 1.0 million in September from 864,000 in the preceding month.

New Zealand shares ended lower as investors awaited the election results to come in on Saturday. The benchmark NZX-50 Index dropped 53.57 points, or 0.4 percent, to 12,433.16, dragged down by electricity retailers. Both Contact Energy and Meridian Energy fell over 4 percent.

The manufacturing sector in New Zealand expand at a faster rate in September, the latest survey from BusinessNZ revealed today, with a Purchasing Managers Index score of 54.0, up from 51.0 in August.

U.S. stocks edged lower overnight after data showed new applications for unemployment benefits unexpectedly increased last week, adding to concerns surrounding fresh coronavirus restrictions in Europe, uncertainty surrounding the upcoming elections and deadlocked stimulus talks.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged more than 330 points before recovering much of the lost ground to end the session down just 0.1 percent after U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he will keep trying to reach a deal on coronavirus relief.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite shed half a percent and the S&P 500 eased 0.2 percent.

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