Asian Shares Rise Despite China Worries

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Asian stocks rose on Tuesday despite concerns over surging coronavirus cases in the region and the continuing regulatory clampdown in China.

Investors ignored official data that showed China's services industry contracted in August for the first time since the height of the pandemic early last year.

Chinese stocks recovered from an early slide to finish higher as investors weighed the impact of new regulations that tighten the time under-18s in China spend on online video games.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index rose 15.79 points, or 0.5 percent, to 3,543.94, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index surged up 339.45 points, or 1.3 percent, to 25,878.99.

Japanese shares rose sharply to hit a three-week high after reports Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga is considering replacing the ruling party's powerful secretary-general, Toshihiro Nikai, ahead of a party leadership election.

The Nikkei 225 Index jumped 300.25 points, or 1.1 percent, to 28,089.54, closing above the 28,000 level for the first time since August 12. The broader Topix closed 0.5 percent higher at 1,960.70.

Shippers and steel makers extended recent gains. Heavyweight SoftBank Group rose half a percent, while Uniqlo clothing store operator Fast Retailing gained 2.1 percent and chip-making equipment maker Tokyo Electron added 1.4 percent.

On the losing side, Japan Airlines dropped 1.6 percent and ANA Holdings lost 2.1 percent.

Australian markets eked out modest gains after data showed the country's current account surplus widened to a record high in the June quarter.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index rose 30.40 points, or 0.4 percent, to 7,534.90, marking its highest close since August 16. The broader All Ordinaries Index ended up 34.70 points, or 0.5 percent, at 7,823.30.

Tech and healthcare stocks paced the gainers, while energy stocks succumbed to selling pressure, tracking a downturn in oil prices.

Biotech firm Mesoblast plunged nearly 16 percent after it revealed a loss of $US98.8 million ($134.6 million) for 2021.

Seoul stocks ended higher for the third straight day as foreign investors scooped up tech shares on expectations they will benefit from lower interest rates. The benchmark Kospi spiked 55.08 points, or 1.8 percent, to 3,199.27.

Market bellwether Samsung Electronics jumped 2.8 percent, No. 2 chipmaker SK Hynix climbed 2.9 percent and internet portal operator Naver advanced 2.6 percent.

Drug maker SK Bioscience soared 4.7 percent, a day after the company announced it began phase three clinical trials of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate.

Video game maker Krafton lost 1.1 percent after China announced new rules to curb video game addiction among children.

New Zealand shares advanced after the government reported that new COVID-19 cases fell for a second day. The benchmark NZX-50 Index rose 38.25 points, or 0.3 percent, to finish at 13,218.83, extending gains to a third session.

Sky Network Television shares jumped 8 percent to extend gains from the previous session after announcing an above-forecast annual net profit last week.

U.S. stocks ended mostly higher overnight, with optimism over economic recovery and easing fears of a sudden tapering in monetary stimulus helping underpin sentiment.

The S&P 500 rose 0.4 percent and the Nasdaq Composite gained 0.9 percent to reach new record closing highs, while the Dow slipped 0.2 percent.

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