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Asia Stocks End Mixed; Resources Dip

CNBC.com with Reuters
Wednesday, 5 Jan 2011 | 6:24 AM ET

Asian markets closed mixed on Wednesday following a broad commodities selloff but losses were limited as stronger-than expected U.S. factory data lent support.

The FTSE CNBC Asia 100Index gave up 0.5 percent.

Japan's Nikkei average inched down 0.2 percent after it hit a near eight-month closing high the previous day.

The Nikkei 225 moved in and out of positive territory before closing the day down 0.2 percent or 17.33 points at 10,380.77. The broader Topix index was almost unchanged, shedding 0.01 percent to 911.69.

Exporters were aided by a weaker yen .

Decliners on the Nikkei were led by Japan's largest Internet firm, Yahoo Japan, which lost 4.7 percent in heavy trade after Goldman Sachs resumed coverage with a "sell" rating.

"Yahoo Japan is dominant in the PC search and portal businesses. However, it has much less of a presence in mobile/smartphone sites than in PC sites at a time when increased smartphone use threatens to reduce PC usage," Goldman said in a note to clients.

Electronics maker Toshiba gained 2.5 percent after the Nikkei business daily reported that its unit Westinghouse Electric will work with China's State Nuclear Power Technology to develop a large nuclear reactor. It was the fifth-biggest gainer on the Nikkei 225 and the second most actively traded share by volume.

Seoul Slips After Hitting Record High

Seoul closed lower after touching an all-time high on Wednesday, fueled by firm gains in Hyundai Motor and steelmakers such as POSCO, but falls in technology and banking plays weighed.

The Korea Composite Stock Price Index ended down 0.12 percent at 2,082.55 points.

Shares in S-Oil fell 4.2 percent and SK Energy lost 3.5 percent.

Samsung Engineering outperformed and rose 0.3 percent after the company said it had won a 304.4 billion won ($270.3 million) order to build a thermal power plant in Mexico.

Hyundai Engineering & Construction jumped nearly 6.7 percent after a court on Tuesday cleared the way for the automaker to purchase a stake in South Korea's top builder.

Shareholders in Hyundai E&C plan to sign a preliminary sales deal with a consortium led by Hyundai Motor by next week after a court cleared the hurdle on Tuesday. Hyundai Motor shares also spiked 6.2 percent.

South Korean banks pared back on recent gains, weighed by news that the financial watchdog planned to inspect loan quality at local banks in January, analysts said.

A Financial Supervisory Service official told Reuters that the probe, also held last year, would be aimed at bank asset management and bad-loan provisions.

KB Financial Group, which runs the country's largest lender Kookmin Bank, slid 2.3 percent. Woori Finance Holdings fell 1.9 percent.

POSCO gained for a second session, up 1.5 percent, continuing to advance on news that an Indian government panel had approved a long-delayed steel mill project.

CJ O Shopping climbed 4.4 percent after the company said it had started running a 24-hour shopping channel in Tianjin, China, from Wednesday. The company already runs shopping channels in Shanghai and in India.

Shanghai Shares Fall, Hang Seng Up

Shanghai's key stock index eased 0.5 percent on profit taking in resource stocks after commodities such as oil and copper retreated from multi-year highs.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng , however, eked modest gains to close 0.4 percent higher following a rally in local developers and a rise in heavyweight HSBC that helped offset a weak performance of resource shares.

HSBC rose 2.4 percent tracking gains in its London-listed shares.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong property developers led by Sun Hung Kai Properties and Sino Land advanced on expectations that strong capital inflows into the territory and sustained strength in rental income would support prices.

Australia Slips as Resources Retreat

Stocks in Australia slipped, hurt by the commodities sell-off and fears that massive floods in northern Queensland state would hit miners.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index fell 0.6 percent to its lowest close in nearly a month on Wednesday.

Flag carrier Qantas lost all its early gains to fall 1.2 percent to A$2.45, despite confirming that it planned to resume A380 flights on the lucrative Los Angeles route by January 17.

Top miners were down after copper eased from record highs as part of a broad-based sell off over-heated commodities. BHP Billiton was 1 percent lower, while Rio Tinto was 0.9 percent weaker.

Companies with a focus on the U.S. economy such as top shopping mall operator Westfield Group and News Corp gained over 1.2 percent on strong economic data.

Queensland-based insurer Suncorp Metway rallied 1.2 percent as investors felt its 6 percent fall over the past few sessions had been excessive.

Rare earths firm Lynas fell 6.1 percent as investors viewed the sharp rise over the past four sessions, after dominant supplier of rare earths China cut export quotas of the minerals, as excessive. The stock had risen 42 percent in the past four days of trade.

Singapore's Straits Times Index reversed trend to end up 0.1 percent at 3,254.25 points.

Palm oil shares weighed due to profit-taking after a recent rally, but CapitaLand jumped 2.6 percent to $3.86, after it said it was open to the idea of a listing in China, where the firm's shopping mall unit, CapitaMalls Asia, plans to almost double its number of properties. CapitaMalls closed up 1.6 percent higher.

The KL Composite ended the session up 0.9 percent.

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BHP
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FOXA
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QAN
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RIO
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