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Asian Shares Little Changed In Muted Holiday Trading

stockmarkets jan23 03may21 lt

Asian stocks ended little changed in thin holiday trading on Monday as investors digested a slew of manufacturing data and kept a wary eye on the COVID-19 surge in the region. Chinese and Japanese markets were closed for Labor Day and Constitution Memorial Day, respectively.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index fell 367.34 points, or 1.3 percent, to 28,357.54 on the first trading day of the month.

Australian markets gave up early gains to end on a flat note. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index inched up 3.00 points to 7,028.80, while the broader All Ordinaries Index ended marginally lower at 7,286.80.

Lender Westpac surged 5 percent after its half-year profits rebounded 256 percent from the depressed levels of a year ago. The other three big banks rose 1-2 percent ahead of the Reserve Bank of Australia monetary policy decision on Tuesday.

Mining heavyweights BHP and Rio Tinto fell 1.4 percent and 0.9 percent, respectively, on weak commodity prices.

Energy stocks such as Oil Search, Santos and Woodside Petroleum lost 1-2 percent as oil prices eased on worries that fuel demand in India would be impacted by soaring COVID-19 infections and consequent lockdowns.

In economic news, the manufacturing sector in Australia expanded at a faster pace in April, the latest survey from Markit Economics revealed, with a survey record manufacturing PMI score of 59.7, up from 56.8 in March.

Seoul stocks ended lower as short selling partially resumed on the bourses. The benchmark Kospi dropped 20.66 points, or 0.7 percent, to 3,127.20, extending losses for the fifth straight session.

Top pharmaceutical firm Samsung Biologics tumbled 3.9 percent and Celltrion slumped 6.2 percent, while chipmaker SK Hynix rallied 2.7 percent and automaker Hyundai Motor advanced 2.8 percent.

The manufacturing sector in South Korea continued to expand in April, albeit at a slower pace, the latest survey from Markit Economics revealed today, with a manufacturing PMI score of 54.6, down from 55.3 in March.

New Zealand shares ended a choppy session modestly higher. The benchmark NZX-50 Index ended up 37.71 points, or 0.3 percent, at 12,768.84, extending gains for the fourth day. SK Network Television shares rallied 3.5 percent and Oceania Healthcare jumped 3 percent.

U.S. stocks fell from record highs on Friday but posted monthly gains after a slew of strong earnings reports.

Stocks failed to gain traction despite another batch of upbeat U.S. economic data, with personal income for Americans surging by a record 21.1 percent in March and a gauge of consumer sentiment improving by more than initially estimated in April.

The Dow dipped half a percent, the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index shed 0.9 percent and the S&P 500 slid 0.7 percent.

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