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Asian Shares Broadly Lower In Cautious Trading

stockmarkets jan04 02mar21 lt

Asian stocks fell broadly on Tuesday despite sharp gains on Wall Street overnight on positive vaccine and stimulus news.

Chinese markets fell as the country's top banking regulator warned about asset bubbles in overseas financial markets. The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index ended down 42.81 points, or 1.2 percent, at 3,508.59, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index fell 356.71 points, or 1.2 percent, to 29,095.86.

Japanese shares ended lower as investors booked profits after recent sharp gains in the run-up to the fiscal year-end this month. The Nikkei 225 Index dropped 255.33 points, or 0.9 percent, to 29,408.17, while the broader Topix closed 0.4 percent lower at 1,894.85. Both the indexes jumped over 2 percent the previous day.

SoftBank's internet subsidiary Z Holdings Corp. lost 4.8 percent after it unveiled plans to invest 500 billion yen ($4.7 billion) in technology over five years. Ship builder Mitsui E&S Holdings tumbled 4.1 percent and system integration company NTT Data gave up 3.9 percent.

In economic news, the unemployment rate in Japan came in at a seasonally adjusted 2.9 percent in January, unchanged from the December reading and shy of expectations for 3.0 percent.

Australian markets erased early gains to end lower as the Reserve Bank left its cash rate and asset purchase program unchanged and indicated that it will not raise the rate until inflation returns to the target range.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index ended down 27.30 points, or 0.4 percent, at 6,762.30 as domestic bond yields rose once again following the central bank's meeting. The broader All Ordinaries Index dropped 32.80 points, or 0.5 percent, to 7,009.90.

Banks ANZ, Commonwealth and NAB rose between half a percent and 1.1 percent, while mining heavyweight BHP fell 1.9 percent and Fortescue Metals Group lost 4.7 percent.

James Hardie Industries advanced 1.8 percent even as data showed the total number of building permits issued in Australia tumbled by a seasonally adjusted 19.4 percent sequentially in January.

Afterpay declined 1.7 percent after one of its major competitors, Klarna, raised $US1 billion at a valuation of $31 billion. Woodside Petroleum and Santos fell about 1.8 percent ahead of a meeting of OPEC and its allies to discuss increasing output.

Gold miners Newcrest, Northern Star Resources and Evolution Mining tumbled 2-4 percent as gold prices slumped to their lowest in 8-1/2 months.

Meanwhile, Seoul stocks rose sharply as trading resumed after a long holiday weekend. The Kospi climbed 30.92 points, or 1 percent, to 3,043.87 after the government unveiled a 15 trillion won ($13.35 billion) extra budget and data showed the country's exports expanded for a fourth straight month in February.

The manufacturing sector in South Korea expanded at a faster pace in February and industrial production jumped 7.5 percent year-on-year, while the total value of retail sales rose 1.6 percent from the previous month in January, separate reports showed.

New Zealand shares gave up some early gains to end modestly higher for the day.
The benchmark S&P/NZX-50 Index closed up 42.68 points, or 4 percent, at 12,344.49 after the S&P 500 posted its biggest single-day gain since June overnight.

Heavyweight A2 Milk jumped 5.5 percent after recent steep losses in the wake of a weak first-half profit.

Overnight, U.S. stocks rose the most in months as Treasury yields dropped, the House passed a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill, manufacturers reported strong growth in activity in February and a third Covid-19 vaccine headed to clinics and pharmacies across the country.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 2 percent, the S&P 500 rallied 2.4 percent and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite soared 3 percent.

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