Asian Shares Mostly Higher In Cautious Trading

stockmarkets jan02 25mar21 lt

Asian stocks ended mostly higher on Thursday, although a cautious mood prevailed amid worries over potential U.S. tax hikes and extended lockdowns in Europe.

Chinese stocks ended little changed even as tech stocks fell sharply after the U.S. securities regulator introduced measures that would kick foreign companies off American stock exchanges if they do not comply with U.S. auditing standards.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index ended down 3.47 points, or 0.1 percent, at 3,363.59, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index edged down 18.53 points, or 0.1 percent, to 27,899.61.

Japanese shares rose sharply to snap a four-day losing streak. The Nikkei 225 Index surged up 324.36 points, or 1.1 percent, to 28,729.88 after finishing at the lowest since February 4 the previous day.

The broader Topix closed 1.4 percent higher at 1,955.55 even as Tokyo confirmed 420 new coronavirus infections on Wednesday, the largest daily figure in March.

Beaten-down cyclical stocks were in focus, with heavyweight Fast Retailing rising 1.4 percent. Banks Mizuho Financial Group., Mitsubishi UFJ Financial and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial jumped 2-3 percent.

Chip-related shares lost ground, with Advantest down 1.5 percent and Advantest losing 1.9 percent.

Australian markets ended a choppy session slightly higher on optimism about the U.S. economic recovery. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index inched up 11.80 points, or 0.2 percent, to 6,790.60, while the broader All Ordinaries Index ended up 8.70 points, or 0.1 percent, at 7,022.60.

Energy stocks ended little changed as oil prices fell more than 1 percent in Asian trading after surging the most since November on fears of supply disruptions and signs of stronger gasoline demand in the U.S.

Healthcare stocks rose as the Aussie dollar weakened. CSL gained 1.4 percent and Sonic Healthcare advanced 1.6 percent.

Tech stocks underperformed, with Afterpay and Appen losing 2-3 percent. Miners ended on a mixed note. Resolute Mining plummeted more than 26 percent as shares emerged from a trading halt.

Seoul stocks ended modestly higher to snap a four-day losing streak as investors bought battered shares that could benefit from the economic rebound. The benchmark Kospi rose 11.98 points, or 0.4 percent, to close at 3,008.33.

Markets had a lackluster start earlier in the day after North Korea launched two projectiles into the East Sea.

New Zealand shares eked out modest gains, with the benchmark NZX-50 index ending up 29.18 points, or 0.2 percent, at 12,388.06.

Fisher & Paykel Healthcare climbed 2.9 percent, while A2 Milk gave up 1.9 percent and Meridian Energy fell 1.7 percent. The Warehouse Group rallied 3.6 percent after reporting a sharp rise in its half-year profit.

U.S. stocks ended lower overnight as optimism around the economic recovery triggered a rotation out of technology stocks.

Treasury yields continued to pull back as Fed Chair Jerome Powell and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen wrapped up two days of hearings in front of Congress.

The Dow edged down marginally and the S&P 500 shed 0.6 percent, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index plunged 2 percent.

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