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Asian Shares Mixed As Investors Seek Clarity On Trump Policy

02/28/17

CANBERA (dpa-AFX) - Asian stocks ended mixed on Tuesday and the dollar held steady as investors awaited U.S. President Donald Trump's address before a joint session of Congress tonight, where he is expected to lay out plans for pro-business policies including tax reform, health care and infrastructure spending. Trump's speech is scheduled to start at 9 p.m. ET.

Chinese shares rose in thin trading after Trump said the United States attaches great importance to cooperative relations with China.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite gained 13.07 points or 0.40 percent to finish at 3,241.73, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng index was down 184 points or 0.77 percent at 23,740 in late trade.

Japanese shares inched higher despite a stronger yen and comments from BOJ Governor Haruhiko Kuroda that Japan was still distant from achieving its 2 percent inflation target.

The day's economic reports also painted a mixed picture, with Japan's industrial output declining for the first time in six months in January, while housing starts expanded at a faster pace and retail sales increased for a third straight month.

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The Nikkei average rose 11.52 points or 0.06 percent to 19,118.99 while the broader Topix index finished 0.09 percent higher at 1,535.32. Exporters turned in a mixed performance, with Panasonic inching up 0.2 percent and Sony rising 0.7 percent, while Honda and Toyota ended in the red. Energy stocks such as JX Holdings and Japan Petroleum climbed around 2 percent each.

Australian shares ended lower for a fourth day after data on new home sales and private sector credit disappointed investors. There was some respite as official data showed that Australia boasted the smallest current account deficit in 15 years last quarter.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index slid 12 points or 0.21 percent to 5,712.20, while the broader All Ordinaries index finished down 12.80 points or 0.22 percent at 5,761, dragged down by miners with Rio Tinto and Fortescue Metals Group losing 0.8 percent and half a percent, respectively.

Gold miners Newcrest, Evolution Mining, Norther Star and Regis Resources lost 4-6 percent after gold prices retreated from a 3-1/2-month high. Financials ended broadly higher, with banks ANZ, Commonwealth and NAB inching up marginally while wealth manager AMP advanced 2.7 percent. Oil & gas producer Santos rose 1.3 percent as oil prices rose for a second day.

WorleyParsons shares soared as much as 32 percent after a Dubai-based consulting group said it had made an indicative bid for the engineering services provider. Bellamy Australia jumped over 4 percent on news of a board overhaul at the infant formula maker.

Spotless Group shares plunged 13.7 percent as the catering and cleaning services firm slashed its dividend and forecast a lower full-year profit.

South Korea's Kospi average rose 6.12 points or 0.29 percent to 2,091.64. Lotte Confectionery shares tumbled 2.7 percent after a subsidiary of retail giant Lotte Group approved a land swap with the military to deploy a controversial U.S. missile defense system.

New Zealand shares rose sharply even as trade balance and business confidence figures painted a mixed picture of the economy.

The benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rallied 88.28 points or 1.25 percent to 7,167.46, with Metlifecare, Chorus and Ryman Healthcare climbing over 3 percent each. New Zealand Refining tumbled 2.9 percent after its annual profit slumped 69 percent from a year earlier.

The Taiwanese market was closed for the Peace Memorial Day holiday.

Malaysia's KLSE Composite index was little changed after a government report showed the country's producer price inflation accelerated markedly at the start of the year.

Singapore's Straits Times index was declining 0.4 percent after official data showed the country's producer price index increased for the second straight month in January. Indian shares were marginally lower while Indonesia's Jakarta Composite index was moving up 0.2 percent.

Overnight, U.S. stocks eked out modest gains after President Trump proposed a huge $54 billion surge in U.S. military spending and signed another executive order to curb regulations and help businesses.

Economic reports on durable goods orders and regional manufacturing beat expectations while a gauge of pending home sales disappointed investors.

The Dow inched up 0.1 percent to close at a record high for a 12th straight session and the S&P 500 also rose 0.1 percent to hit another record closing high, while the Nasdaq Composite gained 0.3 percent.

Copyright RTT News/dpa-AFX


                                                                                                                        

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