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Asian Markets End Mixed, Rally Cools

CNBC.com
Wednesday, 19 Dec 2007 | 5:34 AM ET

Asian stocks ended mixed Wednesday, as markets failed to sustain an earlier recovery. Japan shed 1 percent despite spending most of the session in positive territory. Australia also closed lower.

The Nikkei 225 Average extended losses for the sixth day after banks including Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group failed to sustain earlier gains as investors were quick to book profit amid thin trade. Chip-related firms such as Advantest and Tokyo Electron were among stocks dragging down the market after they fell on weak order data.

Australian shares finished 0.3 percent lower, falling for a sixth straight session, as Commonwealth Bank of Australia and other lenders declined on worries about the money
they have lent to the battered property sector. Centro Properties Group rose 49.7 percent to A$1.21, partly helped by comments that it was still viable. It had slid 86 percent in the previous two days

A man uses his mobile phone in front of electronic stock boards at the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX Ltd.) headquarters in Sydney, Australia.
Ian Waldie | Bloomberg | Getty Images
A man uses his mobile phone in front of electronic stock boards at the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX Ltd.) headquarters in Sydney, Australia.

Hong Kong stocks ended 1.1 percent higher, as investors took heart in Wall Street gains and bid up shares across the board, with PetroChina and China Mobile snapping back to lead the market.

Singapore's Straits Times Index closed slightly lower despite a rebound in banking stocks. Shares of JES International, a Chinese shipbuilding firm, opened flat in their debut on the Singapore Exchange.

China's Shanghai Composite Index ended 2.2 percent higher after comments by a senior official were interpreted to mean the government did not intend to sell off large state holdings in listed companies to cool the market. The rise was also fueled by the return of money to unsuccessful retail bidders for a massively subscribed IPO by China Pacific Insurance, a rebound in Hong Kong's market, and the fact that the Shanghai market had neared technical support.

South Korean financial markets were closed Wednesday for the presidential election. Former CEO Lee Myung-bak won the vote to take the role, according to TV exit polls. Trading will resume on Thursday.