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Asia Ends Mixed Despite Stronger US Session

Asian stock markets ended mixed on Thursday, despite the modest gains on Wall Street overnight.

Japan's Nikkei average ended down after a recent sharp rebound, as credit troubles overseas dampened investor confidence and a stronger yen pressured shares of exporters.

The benchmark index lost 141.90 points to 9,862.82, falling for a third day after having gained nearly 12 percent in a six-day rally to Monday. The broader Topix retreated 1.3 percent to 873.90.

Suzuki Motor dropped 6.5 percent, erasing the gain it logged on Wednesday amid hopes for an alliance agreement with Volkswagen, after an analyst said valuations for the stock had
risen too high. The deal was announced after the closing bell on Wednesday.

Japan's core machinery orders fell 4.5 percent in October from the previous month, but analysts said the worst may be over for capital spending, which has been a drag on the economic recovery.

Among exporters, Honda Motor slipped 1.5 percent and Toyota Motor declined 1.6
percent. Tokyo Electron retreated 2.9 percent.

Sanyo outperformed, jumping 10 percent, boosted by hopes that Panasonic would take a majority stake in the company, which could lead to synergies between the two electronics firms.

Seoul shares closed 1.1 percent higher after a choppy Thursday session as program buying lifted the benchmark KOSPI index and reversed earlier losses of as much as 1.3 percent following the central bank governor's comments on monetary policy.

The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) finished up 18.56 points to 1,652.73.

Tech and auto sector stocks showed pockets of strength. Gains in the key U.S. semiconductor index helped to lift Seoul memory chip issues including Samsung Electronics and Hynix Semiconductor, which were up 1.29 percent and 1.46 percent respectively.

POSCO rose 2.89 percent following news late on Wednesday that Woori Bank, a unit of Woori Finance, decided to sell its 1 percent stake in the steel maker as part of a portfolio adjustment. Woori Finance rose 0.99 percent.

KB Financial, the parent company of top South Korean bank Kookmin, rose 2.9 percent after it said late on Wednesday the group would aim to boost profitability next year while increasing its presence in the securities and insurance sectors.

Shippers reversed course after slipping earlier as the Baltic Dry Index, which tracks the cost of shipping key commodities, fell 2.84 percent. Shares in STX Pan Ocean rose 0.4 percent and Hyundai Merchant Marine jumped 14.7 percent.

Defensive issues lent support to the market. SK Telecom, the country's leading mobile phone carrier, gained 2.3 percent and KT&G, South Korea's tobacco monopoly, rose 1.16 percent.

Australian shares lost ground as the market extended its decline for a fifth straight session despite modest gains on Wall Street and stronger-than-expected domestic employment data.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 closed down 31.2 points, or 0.7 percent, at 4606.7, to a near two-week closing low, after a post-jobs data rise to 4652.4.

Market heavyweight BHP Billiton dragged on the index, falling 1.5 percent to A$39.96, leaving it marginally below the key technical support level of A$40.00. Rio Tinto lost 1.6 percent to A$69.80.

Gold-related stocks such as Newcrest Mining fell 0.9 percent and Lihir fell 2.7 percent
as spot gold remained on a shaky footing near US$1127.40 in Asian trade.

Banks finished mixed after driving the index higher on the jobs data. Westpac finished 0.8 percent higher at A$23.77 and National Australia Bank rose 0.1% to A$28.00. Commonwealth Bank declined 0.7 percent.

In the property sector, Westfield fell 1.6 percent to A$11.86 after a promising rise
on Wednesday.

Grocery wholesaler Metcash slipped 0.9 percent to A$4.36 after agreeing to inject A$55 million ($50 million) to buy a 50.1 percent stake in Mitre 10, the nation's biggest independent hardware chain.

Ten Network closed 0.6 percent lower afterrising 1 percent to A$1.56on news it was seeing a continued improvement in the domestic advertising market.

In New Zealand benchmark NZX 50 index gained 0.1 percent to 3,132.2 points.

New Zealand's central bank signaled that it could start hiking rates as early as the second quarter of next year, bringing forward an end to record-low interest rates and sending
the local currency higher.

Taiwan stocks ended Thursday's session down 1.53 percent to a one-week closing low, with tech issues such as Mediatek slipping as investors took profit after shares hit a one-month intraday high earlier.

The key TAIEX closed 119.51 points lower at 7,677.91, its weakest close since December 4.

Mediatek's 1.89 percent fall dragged the electronics sub-index down 1.39 percent.

TSMC lost 1.7 percent. The world's top contract chip maker has announced an alliance with Motech Industries to tap growth in the solar market.

Chi Mei Optoelectronics dropped 3.2 percent, hurt by news the company was fined US$220 million by U.S. Department of Justice for fixing LCD panel prices.

Hong Kong stocks erased earlier gains, as investors dumped Chinese developers and automakers after Beijing imposed measures to cool the sectors, while debutant China Longyuan rose.

The benchmark Hang Seng Index was down 0.2 percent at 21,700 points after dropping 0.7 percent at mid-day. The index opened up nearly 1 percent, as investors were encouraged by China's plan to extend measures to prop up domestic spending into next year.

Debutant China Longyuan Power, the most actively traded stock, was up 10.17 percent, versus its IPO price of HK$8.16. The stock rose to as high as HK$9.26 a share.

Chinese property counters and automakers fell as Beijing moved to cool its real estate and car markets. Beijing will crack down on speculation in the property market and raise supply of lower-cost housing.

Evergrande Real Estate slid 4.15 percent; Glorious Property was down 5.24 percent and Shimao Property slipped 6.01 percent. Shanghai-listed China Vanke shed 1.5 percent to 11.85 yuan.

Denway Motors declined 5.75 percent and Geely Automobile retreated 5.86 percent.

Index heavyweight HSBC trimmed gains to 0.5 percent in afternoon trade, snapping four days of losses on worries about its exposure in troubled Dubai World, which sought creditors' approval to delay payment on $26 billion of debt.

Global Greem Tech Group surged 17 percent. The biotechnology and cosmetics products maker said it would diversify into the gold mining industry by acquiring a majority stake in gold mines in Yuanling County in Hunan Province for HK$1.2 billion.

South Sea Petroleum rose 10.64 percent after the firm said it would issue $100 million in 6 percent interest convertible debentures due 2015 to Kelton Capital Group, raising proceeds to increase graphite ore reserves and expand graphite production capacity in China.

Commodity-linked stocks were up after gold prices recovered from three-week lows. Zijin Mining was up 2.09 percent, Aluminum Corp of China advanced 1.76 percent and Jiangxi Copper rose 1.68 percent. Oil counters CNOOC rose 1.52 percent and PetroChina
was 1.68 percent higher.

The Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.5 percent at 3,254.3 points, after mixed policy signals and ahead of key November economic data.

Singapore stocks inched lower in rangebound trade, with the benchmark STI down 0.6 percent at 2,781 points. Malaysia's KLCI rose 0.3 percent at 1,259 points, supported by property stocks such as IJM Land, which climbed 2.6 percent.

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