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Asian Stocks End Lower, Erasing Early Gains

Asia's key indexes failed to hang on to the morning's modest gains and closed lower, as Tokyo, Sydney and Seoul slipped into the red. Markets had earlier tracked Wall Street, after the Dow Jones Industrials closed higher for the sixth straight session.

Japan's Nikkei Average closed lower as exporters such as Canon and tech shares retreated.

Shipping companies weighed on the index amid worries over financing in the sector after Nippon Yusen said it would raised up to $1.6 billion through a share offering.

Alps Electric tumbled 8 percent after the electrical components maker gave a deeper group operating loss forecast for the fiscal year.

But shares of CSK Holdings surged 16 percent, as investors cheered the information services firm's improved operating profit forecast.

Yahoo Japan outperformed the broader market, rising 5.3 percent, boosted by a brokerage upgrade to "buy".

Shares of convenience store FamilyMart rose 1.2 percent after a source said Japan's third-largest convenience store operator is in talks to buy smaller rival am/pm Japan Co.

The Nikkei business daily had reported earlier that FamilyMart and its top shareholder Itochu Corp would likely buy am/pm from its parent Rex Holdings Co for 10 billion yen ($110 million).

The Nikkei lost 67 points to 9,804.4, while the broader Topix shed 0.53 percent to 867.70.

Australian shares closed in negative territory as well. The S&P/ASX 200 gave up the morning's 0.5 percent gain to end down 0.2 percent at 4,747.9 points.

Banking issues were mostly lower, with NAB down 0.6 percent and CBA losing 0.7 percent.

Mining stocks climbed on expectations of greater demand. Industry giants BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto rose 1.8 and 1.1 percent respectively.

The country's job front improved and beat market forecast, with 24,500 jobs created in October from the month before. The unemployment rate notched up to 5.8 percent, from September's 5.7 percent. The news raised bets for a rate hike in December and pushed the Aussie dollar to a 15-month high.

Westfield, the world's largest shopping mall owner, said it continued to see signs of stabilisation in the U.S. and Britain. Is share rose 1 percent to A$12.71 in the session but closed 0.4 percent lower.

Shares in Lend Lease Corporation declined 4.5 percent. The property developer said it saw some sign of improving markets, but would not give specific earnings guidance.

Meanwhile, drug developer Biota Holdings gained 2.2 percent to A$2.89 as the company made two deals to gain antibacterial assets.

KOSPI Slips Below 16,000

In South Korea, the KOSPI fell 0.7 percent and came off the 1,600 level it touched earlier as the market could not find the momentum to move higher. The country's big tech exporters, banks and automakers came under pressure.

The Bank of Korea on Thursday held its key interest rate steady at a record low of 2 percent for the ninth month as it wanted more time for an economic recovery to take hold.

Shares of Hyosung surged over 14 percent, after it withdrew its bid for a controlling stake in Hynix Semiconductor.

Taiwan's Taiex finished flat at 0.04 percent higher. Gains in tourism stocks and Chi Mei Optoelectronics offset selling in as tech heavyweights such as Hon Hai following recent rallies.

Shanghai Flat, HK Down

Hong Kong's Hang Seng lost 1 percent, led by index heavyweight HSBC and property stocks such as Wharf Holdings and Henderson Land.

Takeover talk lifted shares of Bank of East Asia to a 16-month high, as they extended yesterday's sharp gains on rumors that the lender could be a buying target of Malaysian conglomerate Guoco Group.

Taifook Securities advanced to a 23-month high of HK$4.95, boosted by reports that China Construction Bank, the country's No. 2 lender by assets, could be a prospective buyer of the brokerage. Major shareholder NWS Holdings said late Wednesday, that it is in talks to sell its stake in Taifook.

Chinese shares pared the morning's 0.6 percent rise to drift flat. The key Shanghai Composite stood at 0.1 percent lower at 3171.1 points.

Singapore and Malaysia both traded to the downside. The STI's retreat gathered pace to 1 percent at 2,711.5 points.

Wilmar International fell after hitting a six-week high of S$6.67 following a better-than-expected 35-percent rise in quarterly profit and issuing an optimistic outlook for the year.

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