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Asian Shares Mixed As US Stimulus Deadline Looms

stockmarkets jan18 20oct20 lt

Asian stocks ended mixed on Tuesday as Europe reported record daily coronavirus infections and investors waited for fresh news on U.S. fiscal stimulus ahead of the deadline to reach an agreement.

There were reports that U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin "continued to narrow their differences" on the virus relief package.

China's Shanghai Composite index inched up 15.44 points, or 0.47 percent, to 3,328.10 as the People's Bank of China left its benchmark lending rates unchanged for the sixth consecutive month, as widely expected.

The one-year loan prime rate was retained at 3.85 percent and the five-year loan prime rate was maintained at 4.65 percent. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index ended 0.11 percent higher at 24,569.54.

Japanese stocks ended lower as Covid-19 cases continued to rise in Europe and U.S. stimulus talks dragged on. The Nikkei average slid 104.09 points, or 0.44 percent, to 23,567.04, while the broader Topix index closed 0.75 percent lower at 1,625.74.

Japan Exchange Group declined 1.5 percent amid reports that the Financial Services Agency would conduct an on-site investigation of the Tokyo Stock Exchange and will review in detail the cause of a system failure that caused a full-day trade suspension earlier this month.

East Japan Railway Co fell 4.6 percent and Central Japan Railway Co lost 3.4 percent, while Sony Corp advanced 1.7 percent and Fanuc rose 1 percent.

Australian markets fell on weak offshore leads ahead of a deadline for a new fiscal stimulus deal from Washington.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index dropped 44.80 points, or 0.72 percent, to 6,184.60, while the broader All Ordinaries index ended down 38.80 points, or 0.60 percent, at 6,396.80.

BHP gave up 1.6 percent after the mining giant said its December quarter iron ore production will be affected by work linking its Mining Area C and South Flank projects in Western Australia. Rio Tinto shed 1.5 percent, tracking weak metal prices.

The big four banks fell between 1 percent and 1.4 percent. Buy-now-pay-later firm Afterpay surged 4.5 percent after it joined forces with banking giant Westpac to offer daily transaction accounts and budgeting tools.

Seoul stocks rose for the second day running on hopes that U.S. lawmakers are inching closer to a possible agreement on the new fiscal stimulus bill. The Kospi average ended a choppy session up 11.67 points, or 0.50 percent, at 2,358.41.

Market bellwether Samsung Electronics gained 1.5 percent. No.2 chipmaker SK Hynix dropped 1.7 percent after it agreed to buy Intel corp.'s (INTC) NAND memory and storage business for US$9 billion.

New Zealand shares bucked weak global cues to end notably higher. The benchmark NZX 50 index rose 76.80 points, or 0.62 percent, to 12,462.05. Port of Tauranga rallied 3.5 percent and Infratil advanced 1.7 percent.

U.S. stocks hit their lowest levels in almost two weeks overnight, as a deal on more stimulus remained elusive and Fed officials warned that lack of help from Congress will threaten recovery.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 1.4 percent, the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite shed 1.7 percent and the S&P 500 gave up 1.6 percent.

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