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Asian Shares Mixed On Inflation Concerns

stockmarkets dec12 17feb21 lt

Asian stocks ended mixed on Wednesday as surging bond yields driven by increasing inflationary concerns overshadowed hopes for a vaccine-led economic recovery.

Chinese markets remained closed for the Lunar New Year holidays. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index recovered from an early slide to end 338.28 points, or 1.1 percent, higher at 31,084.94 on optimism over the global recovery outlook.

Japanese shares ended lower despite positive economic data and the beginning of a Covid-19 vaccination drive, starting with medical workers.

The Nikkei 225 Index slid 175.56 points, or 0.6 percent, to 30,292.19 after finishing the previous session at a fresh 30-year high.

Tire maker Bridgestone tumbled 4.1 percent, a day after reporting a net loss for the first time in 69 years in 2020. Semiconductor equipment maker Tokyo Electron dropped 2.2 percent, while aviation company ANA Holdings advanced 4.2 percent.

On the economic front, Japan posted a merchandise trade deficit of 323.9 billion yen in January, a government report showed, beating forecasts for a shortfall of 600 billion yen.

Separately, the Cabinet Office said the total value of core machine orders in Japan gained a seasonally adjusted 5.2 percent month-on-month in December, beating expectations for a decline of 6.2 percent.

Australian markets ended lower after two sessions of gains. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index ended down 32.10 points, or 0.5 percent, at 6,885.20, slipping from a one-year closing high. The broader All Ordinaries Index dropped 30.50 points, or 0.4 percent, to 7,158.80.

Gold miner Evolution Mining lost 10 percent and Northern Star Resources plunged 7.6 percent as gold futures fell below the $1,800 mark amid a stronger U.S. dollar and hardening of U.S. bond yields.

Healthcare stocks fell broadly, with CSL, Ramsay Health Care and Resmed losing 2-4 percent. Grocery chain Coles Group plummeted 5.4 percent after the company warned of a moderation in sales in its biggest revenue generator supermarkets division.

On the positive side, lender Westpac soared 4.6 percent after announcing a steep rise in quarterly cash earnings. Miners BHP and Rio Tinto jumped over 3 percent each after copper prices climbed to a nine-year high.

Treasury Wine Estates rallied 2.4 percent despite the winemaker reporting a drop in its half-yearly profit.

Seoul stocks snapped a three-day winning streak amid strong foreign and institutional selling that stemmed from concerns over rising bond yields.

The benchmark Kospi slumped 29.52 points, or 0.9 percent, to 3,133.73. Market bellwether Samsung Electronics gave up 2 percent and No. 2 chipmaker SK Hynix declined 1.9 percent.

New Zealand shares advanced as the earnings season picked up pace. The benchmark NZX-50 Index rose 63.25 points, or 0.5 percent, to 12,673.97.

Contact Energy jumped 3.7 percent amid news of a $400 million capital raise, while Meridian Energy surged 5.5 percent.

U.S. stocks hit record intraday highs overnight before ending on a mixed note as investors reacted to positive manufacturing activity data in New York State and a surge in bond yields.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average inched up 0.2 percent to reach a fresh record closing high as Democrats continued to move forward with President Joe Biden's proposed $1.9 trillion relief package.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite eased 0.3 percent, while the S&P 500 ended flat with a negative bias.

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