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Asian Markets Close Mostly Higher, Australia Sets New Record

Asian markets swung back into positive territory to close higher Tuesday with Australia setting a new record and South Korea finishing almost flat after an erratic session with stocks see-sawing.

Tokyo's Nikkei 225 Average finished 0.6% higher, led by Fast Retailing and Softbank following Friday's record-setting rally on Wall Street. Toray Industries jumped 4.9% after the company said it planned to spend about 20 billion yen to boost production of carbon fiber for use in new applications in auto parts and for making airplanes.

South Korea's KOSPI ended steady, after hitting earlier a second consecutive record, as
chipmakers extended a recent slide on worries about profitability, but POSCO gained after raising steel plate prices.

Australian shares rose 0.35% to a record finish as gains in banking shares such as National Australia Bank overshadowed declines in
mining firms on lower metal prices. Dealers said investors continued to favor defensive banking shares amid easing concerns about global credit markets. The index, which touched a lifetime high of 6,685.9 during the session, has now risen for three straight sessions.

Singapore's Straits Times Index finished 1.2% higher. Shares of shipbuilder Cosco rose as much as 2% after BNP Paribas raised its target price to S$8.60 from S$6.10 and maintained a "buy" rating on the stock.

Chinese shares ended 0.4% higher on continued strength in banking and property sectors and an impressive debut by Shenhua Energy, but concern about more economic tightening measures remained.

Hong Kong stocks see-sawed between gains and losses, but finished 1.7% in the green. China plays were slightly lower as investors further consolidated recent gains, with China Life down a day after posting sharp rises. Two new issues performed well. Chinese property developer China Aoyuan Property Group jumped 31% to finish the morning at HK$6.80, compared with its HK$5.20 IPO price.