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Asian Shares Mixed In Cautious Trading

stockmarkets jan04 06apr21 lt

Asian stocks ended mixed on Tuesday as worries about rising coronavirus cases and the extension of lockdown restrictions offset signs of the U.S. economy accelerating out of recession.

Chinese shares ended little changed with a negative bias after the country's central bank asked the nation's major lenders to curtail loan growth for the rest of this year to bring the housing boom under control. Markets in Hong Kong were closed for a holiday.

China's service sector growth accelerated in March, driven by steeper increases in activity and overseas sales, survey results from IHS Markit showed earlier today.

The Caixin Purchasing Managers' Index rose to 54.3 from 51.5 in February. The survey showed that new orders increased at the fastest pace in three months despite a slight drop in export business.

Japanese shares fell on profit taking after three days of gains. The Nikkei 225 Index tumbled 392.62 points, or 1.3 percent, to t 29,696.63 after data showed household spending plunged 6.6 percent year-on-year in February, marking the third consecutive monthly drop. The broader Topix closed 1.5 percent lower at 1,954.34.

Market heavyweight SoftBank Group dropped 1.1 percent and Uniqlo operator Fast Retailing gave up 1.5 percent. Banks Sumitomo Mitsui Financial and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial fell over 2 percent.

Australian markets rallied as the Reserve Bank maintained its policy settings as widely expected. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index climbed 57.20 points, or 0.8 percent, to 6,885.90, while the broader All Ordinaries Index ended up 69.70 points, or 1 percent, at 7,133.90.

Tech stocks led the gainers, with Afterpay surging 10 percent, WiseTech Global rising 5.2 percent and Xero rallying 3.2 percent. Cleanaway Waste Management soared 15.9 percent after Suez has reached an agreement to sell its Australian business to the company.

Agri-chemical producer Incitec Pivot slumped 8.2 percent after it has delayed the resumption of the operations at its Waggaman ammonia plant in the U.S.

Seoul stocks rose for the fourth straight session on hopes for a swift global economic recovery. The benchmark Kospi ended a choppy session up 6.25 points, or 0.2 percent, at 3,127.08.

Internet portal operator Naver rallied 3 percent and rival Kakao surged 8.4 percent. Top automaker Hyundai Motor shed 1.7 percent to lead losses.

New Zealand shares fell as trading resumed after the Easter break. The benchmark NZX-50 Index dropped 87.83 points, or 0.7 percent, to 12,400.48, dragged down by utilities.

Meridian Energy lost 5.9 percent and Contact Energy slumped 4.1 percent amid the prospect of an estimated $1 billion worth of shares in the companies to be sold later this month.

Air New Zealand and Tourism Holdings both surged 5.8 percent after Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced a quarantine-free travel bubble between Australia and New Zealand.

U.S. stocks rallied overnight as upbeat jobs and service sector activity data amid the lifting of coronavirus pandemic-related restrictions added to evidence the economic recovery is gaining momentum.

The Dow climbed 1.1 percent and the S&P 500 jumped 1.4 percent to reach new record closing highs, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite index rallied 1.7 percent.

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