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Asian Markets Seesaw, China Swings Wildly

Asian stocks bounced around Thursday, with Chinese markets oscillating wildly, losing as much as 6 percent at one point, but swinging back into the black and finishing 1 percent higher.

The Shanghai Composite Index bounced into positive territory after earlier tumbling as much as 6.5 percent, but many fund managers doubted that any extended recovery was starting. There did not seem to be any fresh, concrete news behind the rebound. While the market may have established a short-term floor at technical support, it remains unclear if the floor will hold in the longer term. Pudong Development Bank was up 5 percent after shareholders approved a 20 billion yuan ($2.8 billion) equity sale plan, as expected, but the bank reported a 64 percent jump of net profit in 2007 and predicted a profit rise of at least 50 percent this year.

Hong Kong stocks slid 3.5 percent as Wall Street losses prompted investors to pocket the previous session's sharp gains, while resource stocks suffered from a slip in gold and oil prices. Adding to the selling pressure was a rush by investors to lighten their load on the last trading day before a long holiday weekend. PetroChina, the world's most valuable energy producer, tumbled as much as 8.4 percent after earnings came in below expectations.

Singapore's Straits Times Index pared losses in line with the Chinese market's bounce. Recently-battered shares in Olam International rose as much as 9.4 percent after UBS and Macquarie issued research notes saying the company's stocks were oversold. It ended 0.3 percent.

In markets that ended trade, Australian shares fell 3.1 percent in a shortened trading session, as resource firms were battered by a drop in oil and metal prices, while fresh credit worries pressured financial firms.

Seoul stocks closed almost unchanged after spending most of the day in negative territory as strength in technology and automaker shares, buoyed by a weakening won, offset losses in energy and financials. Top technology company Samsung Electronics gained 2.5 percent while Hyundai Motor rose 1.25 percent.

Japanese markets are closed for the Spring Equinox holiday. They will reopen Friday. The Nikkei 225 Average closed 2.5 percent higher the previous session.