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Asian Shares Fall On Growth Concerns

stockmarkets aug16 26oct20 lt

Asian stocks ended mostly lower on Monday as a recent global spike in coronavirus infections coupled with a stalemate over U.S. fiscal stimulus dashed hopes for an earlier-than-expected economic recovery.

Traders are becoming increasingly pessimistic that U.S. lawmakers will pass a new stimulus package before next week's election.

The daily tally of coronavirus cases in the United States has topped 80,000 for the second straight day while record numbers of new infections in Europe has heightened the possibility of economic lockdowns.

Spain last week became the first European country to surpass 1 million officially recorded Covid-19 cases.

Chinese shares fell after liquor giant Kweichow Moutai posted slower-than-expected growth in quarterly profit. Investors also awaited the outcome of a key policy meeting of ruling Communist Party this week, where top leaders will chart the country's economic course for 2021-2025.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite index ended down 26.88 points, or 0.82 percent, at 3,251.12.

Japanese shares ended little changed as investors waited for cues from a slew of earnings and the Bank of Japan policy meeting due this week. The Nikkei average ended marginally lower at 23,494.34, while the broader Topix index closed 0.39 percent lower at 1,618.98.

ANA Holdings declined 1.1 percent after announcing it will cut about 3,500 jobs by fiscal year 2022. Electronic parts maker Murata Manufacturing climbed 2.1 percent after it made upward revisions to its profit forecast for the half-year ended September 30.

Australian shares ended slightly lower despite easing of restrictions in Victoria as the Covid-19 hotspot reported zero new cases for the first time in four months.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 slid 11.40 points, or 0.18 percent, to 6,155.60, while the broader All Ordinaries index ended down 16.40 points, or 0.26 percent, at 6,357.30.

Westpac shares closed 0.4 percent lower after the bank flagged a $1.2 billion hit to earnings caused by write-downs across its insurance businesses. Mining heavyweights BHP and Rio Tinto fell around 0.8 percent, while energy stocks ended with modest gains.

Healthcare stocks benefited from a weak Aussie dollar after reports of renewed outbreaks of Covid-19 in China. CSL rose half a percent and Cochlear gained over 1 percent.

Coca-Cola Amatil surged 16.3 percent after it received a $9.28 billion takeover bid from its European counterpart, Coca-Cola European Partners.

Seoul stocks fell notably as investors fretted about surging coronavirus infections at home and abroad. Domestic Covid-19 cases rose by 119 as of Sunday midnight, sharply up from 61 cases reported a day earlier. The benchmark Kospi gave up early gains to end down 16.90 points, or 0.72 percent, at 2,343.91.

Hyundai Motor, South Korea's largest automaker, jumped 2.7 percent, after unveiling its third-quarter results.

Markets in New Zealand and Hong Kong were closed for holidays.

U.S. stocks ended mixed on Friday as investors digested a slew of earnings results and kept an eye on the ongoing negotiations between lawmakers over more economic aid for the pandemic-stricken economy.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite rose 0.4 percent and the S&P 500 edged up 0.3 percent, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average slid 0.1 percent after Intel posted disappointing data center revenue and American Express reported a nearly 40 percent slump in quarterly profit.

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