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Asian Shares Move Mostly Lower In Choppy Trading

stockmarkets jan18 08mar21 lt

Asian stocks ended mostly lower in choppy trading on Monday as rising bond yields globally on the back of encouraging economic data and U.S. stimulus cheer sparked fears that central banks would tighten policy.

Chinese shares led regional losses after the country's foreign minister made ominous comments about the self-ruled island of Taiwan.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index plunged 80.57 points, or 2.3 percent, to 3,421.41, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index tumbled 557.46 points, or 1.9 percent, to 28,540.83. Investors ignored official data showing that China's export growth jumped to the highest in over two decades.

Japanese shares fell for a third consecutive session on concerns that the passage of a fresh U.S. coronavirus relief package could cause inflation to soar. The Nikkei 225 Index slid 121.07 points, or 0.4 percent, to 28,743.25, while the broader Topix closed 0.1 percent lower at 1,893.58.

Heavyweights Fast Retailing and SoftBank fell 1.7 percent and 2.4 percent, respectively, while chip testing equipment maker Advantest lost 3.4 percent.

Takeda Pharmaceutical surged 3.9 percent after the drug maker said it had sought approval for the use of Moderna's Covid-19 vaccine.

In economic news, the value of overall bank lending in Japan was up 6.2 percent year-on-year in February, while the country's current account surplus fell an annual 2.3 percent in January, separate reports showed.

Australian markets ended off their day's highs, with materials and consumer staple stocks leading the gainers. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index ended up 28.80 points, or 0.4 percent, at 6,739.60, while the broader All Ordinaries Index rose 28.60 points, or 0.4 percent, to 6,971.60.

Mining heavyweights BHP and Rio Tinto gained 2.4 percent and 2.9 percent, respectively, while gold miner Evolution Mining added 1.8 percent and Newcrest advanced 2.7 percent

Origin Energy climbed 1.8 percent and Oil Search rallied 3.4 percent as oil prices surged after an attack on the world's largest refinery in Saudi Arabia.

Treasury Wine Estates spiked 6.4 percent on the buzz that European drinks giant Pernod Ricard was interested in the company. Banks ended on a mixed note. Tech stocks fell broadly, with Afterpay losing 3.6 percent.

Seoul stocks fell sharply as improved data from the U.S. and China coupled with rising bond yields stoked fresh concerns over post-pandemic inflation. Increased volatility ahead of the expiration of options and futures on March 11 also weighed on markets.

The benchmark Kospi dropped 30.15 points, or 1 percent, to finish at 2,996.11, with chemical and tech stocks pacing the decliners. LG Chem shed 1.6 percent and SK Hynix gave up 3.2 percent.

New Zealand shares gave up early gains to end lower as the 10-year government bond yield spiked further, raising inflation concerns and denting the appeal of high-dividend yielding stocks.

The benchmark NZX-50 Index ended down 95.07 points, or 0.8 percent, at 12,085.18. A2 Milk, Meridian Energy and Fisher & Paykel Healthcare fell 2-4 percent.

U.S. stocks fluctuated wildly before ending sharply higher on Friday as bond yields steadied after spiking early in the session on the back up upbeat jobs data offering evidence of an economy recovering from the effects of Covid-19.

Non-farm payroll employment jumped by 379,000 jobs in February after climbing by an upwardly revised 166,000 jobs in January due to a rebound in employment in the leisure and hospitality industry, the Labor Department said.

Economists had expected employment to increase by 182,000 jobs compared to the uptick of 49,000 jobs originally reported for the previous month. The unemployment rate unexpectedly edged down to 6.2 percent from 6.3 percent in January.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq hit its lowest intraday level in nearly three months before rebounding to end 1.6 percent higher, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 1.9 percent and the S&P 500 added 2 percent.

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