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Asian Shares Mostly Lower As China Jitters Weigh

stockmarkets jan18 28jul21 lt

Asian stocks fell broadly on Wednesday amid worries that Beijing's regulation of its tech firms and online education industries may spread to other industries.

The downside remained limited after U.S. megacap technology companies Google, Microsoft and Apple reported record-breaking profits.

Investors also awaited the Fed's policy guidance on inflation and interest rates.

Chinese shares ended lower for a fourth consecutive session as an ongoing regulatory crackdown stirred questions about how far Beijing will go to curb big companies.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite index slid 19.59 points, or 0.58 percent, to settle at 3,361.59 while Hong Kong's Hang Seng index rose as much as 1.54 percent to 25,473.88 after being on the verge of a bear market.

Japanese shares tumbled to end near six-month lows as daily COVID-19 cases in Olympic host city Tokyo hit a record high for a second straight day.

The Nikkei average fell 388.56 points, or 1.39 percent, to 27,581.66, edging near a 6-1/2-month low hit last week. The broader Topix index ended 0.95 percent lower at 1,919.65.

Heavyweight SoftBank Group tumbled 4.8 percent on concerns about China's tech rout. Shin-Etsu Chemical dropped 1.3 percent despite the silicon wafer manufacturer reporting upbeat Q1 earnings and forecasting higher FY results.

Apple suppliers retreated as the tech giant posted its strongest June quarter ever, but projected slower growth for the current period. Ibiden declined 2.5 percent and Murata Manufacturing shed 0.6 percent.

Bicycle maker Shimano surged 4.2 per cent after raising its operating income forecast. Automaker Mitsubishi Motors soared 8.4 percent after revising up its earnings outlook.

Australian markets fell notably as authorities extended the lockdown of Greater Sydney by four weeks to curb rising COVID-19 cases.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 dropped 52.10 points, or 0.70 percent, to 7,379.30 after closing at a record high the previous day. The broader All Ordinaries index ended down 54.40 points, or 0.71 percent, at 7,649.60.

Electricity poles-and-wires firm Spark Infrastructure surged 5.4 percent after it received a sweetened buyout offer from a consortium.

Mining heavyweight BHP fell 1.7 percent after it trumped a bid by mining magnate Andrew Forrest to buy Canada's Noront Resources. Rio Tinto ended modestly lower after announcing plans to build a lithium mine in Serbia.

Energy stocks such as Origin Energy, Santos and Woodside Petroleum gave up 1-2 percent while tech stocks such as Afterpay and Appen lost around 4 percent each.

In economic news, consumer prices in Australia were up 0.8 percent sequentially in the second quarter of 2021, official data showed. That was above expectations for 0.7 percent rise and up from 0.6 percent in the previous quarter.

Seoul stocks ended a choppy session slightly higher as hopes of strong corporate earnings helped offset renewed concerns about China's move to regulate tech firms. The Kospi average inched up 4.33 points, or 0.13 percent, to 3,236.86.

Market bellwether Samsung Electronics gained 0.9 percent while No. 2 chipmaker SK Hynix dropped 1.7 percent and internet portal giant Naver lost 2.2 percent.

Consumer confidence in South Korea took a hit in July, the Bank of Korea said with a consumer sentiment index score of 103.2 - down from 110.3 in June.

New Zealand shares swung between gains and losses before ending on a flat note. Serko, Pushpay Holdings and Vista Group International lost 2-3 percent, while Z Energy and SkyCity Entertainment both rose over 3 percent.

Overnight, U.S. stocks fell from record highs to snap a five-session winning streak and real U.S. bond yields hit all-time lows as investors fretted over a sell-off in Chinese shares and awaited cues from the Fed meeting.

The Dow dipped 0.2 percent and the S&P 500 shed half a percent while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite index lost 1.2 percent ahead of earnings reports from some of the most valuable technology companies.

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