Asian Shares Mixed In Cautious Trade

Asian stocks turned in a mixed performance on Friday as investors awaited Chinese trade data and a key U.S. jobs report for directional cues. Concerns persisted around the global economic impact of the deadly coronavirus as the death toll and the number of infections continued to soar in China.

Chinese stocks recovered from an early slide to finish modestly higher. The benchmark Shanghai Composite index edged up 9.45 points, or 0.33 percent, to 2,875.96, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng index declined 0.33 percent to 27,404.27 as China delayed the release of trade data for January.

Japanese shares edged lower to snap a three-session winning streak. The Nikkei average slipped 45.61 points, or 0.19 percent, to 23,827.98 but ended the week about 2.7 percent higher. The broader Topix index ended down 4.84 points, or 0.28 percent, at 1,732.14, taking the weekly gain to 2.8 percent.

Market heavyweight SoftBank soared 7.1 percent on reports that Elliott Management has built a stake worth more than $2.5 billion in the Japanese technology investment giant. Fast Retailing lost 1.7 percent and Advantest, a leading manufacturer of automatic test equipment for the semiconductor industry, declined 2.3 percent.

Exporters ended broadly lower, with Panasonic down 1.2 percent and Honda Motor tumbling 2.7 percent

In economic releases, Japan's household spending decreased 4.8 percent year-on-year in December, following a 2.0 percent decline in November, official data showed. The decline was bigger than the forecast of -1.7 percent.

Australian markets edged lower after the Reserve Bank of Australia revised lower the GDP forecast for Q4, 2019 and a survey showed the service sector in Australia slid deeper into contraction in January, with a Performance of Service Index score of 46.6, down from 48.7 in December.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index dropped 26.60 points, or 0.38 percent, to 7,022.60, while the broader All Ordinaries index ended down 27.30 points, or 0.38 percent, at 7,121.40.

Miners BHP, Rio Tinto and Fortescue Metals Group fell 1-3 percent as the death toll from the coronavirus outbreak crossed 600, further deepening worries about the potential global economic impact.

Energy stocks such as Woodside Petroleum, Santos, Oil Search and Origin Energy lost 1-2 percent while banks ANZ, NAB and Westpac ended down between 0.1 percent and 0.6 percent.

Gold stocks rebounded after two days of losses. Regis Resources rose 1.4 percent and Northern Star Resources rallied 3.2 percent. News Corp shares climbed 3.2 percent despite the publishing giant reporting declines in profit and revenue for its latest quarter.

Seoul stocks ended lower to snap a three-day winning streak amid persistent worries over the new coronavirus outbreak and its impact on the global economy. The benchmark Kospi dropped 15.99 points, or 0.72 percent, to 2,211.95. Both Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix fell over 1 percent.

New Zealand shares posted strong gains, playing catch up to the Australian market which rose sharply the previous day on the back of encouraging U.S. data and news that China would halve additional tariffs levied against 1,717 U.S. goods.

The benchmark NZX 50 index climbed 156.80 points, or 1.35 percent, to 11,760.88 as traders returned to their desks after a holiday on Thursday for Waitangi Day.

Kathmandu Holdings shares jumped as much as 12.8 percent after the outdoor retailer forecast a nearly 40 percent rise in its first-half group underlying operating earnings.

Malaysia's KLSE Composite index was down 0.2 percent. The country's industrial production grew at a softer pace in December driven by a fall in mining, data from the Department of Statistics showed. Industrial production climbed 1.3 percent year-on-year in December, after a 2.1 percent increase in November.

Overnight, U.S. stocks extended recent gains to reach fresh record closing highs after China said it would cut in half tariffs on some $75 billion of U.S. imports beginning Feb. 14.

Markets also took note of a barrage of mostly upbeat economic data and Trump's acquittal of impeachment charges.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 rose around 0.3 percent, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite index added 0.7 percent.



by WooHoo Ireland


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