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Asian Stocks Lower After Wall Street Retreats

CNBC.com with Reuters
Thursday, 10 Feb 2011 | 2:56 AM ET

Asian stocks were mostly lower on Thursday after a retreat on Wall Street.

Japan's stocks edged lower as investors kept taking profits on a recent rise in share prices and amid wariness about overheating in the market.

Analysts said investors stayed on the sidelines on Thursday ahead of a three-day weekend, while weaker-than-expected machinery orders dented the mood. Japanese markets are closed on Friday for a national holiday.

The benchmark Nikkei ended the day down 0.1 percent, or 12.18 points, at 10,605.65. The broader Topix added 0.3 percent to 946.63.

Nissan Motor fell 2.8 percent to 868 yen even though Japan's No.2 automaker raised its annual forecasts the previous day, as some analysts were disappointed by its pace of growth in China and other emerging markets in the latest quarter.

Asahi Glass dropped 1.9 percent after UBS Securities cut its rating to "neutral" from "buy", saying short-term positives had all been priced in.

Seoul shares fell on heavy foreign selling and profit-locking moves amid a regional pullback, analysts said.

Foreign investors offloaded 940 billion won ($846.5 million) worth of stocks, the largest amount in three months, provisional data from the Korea Exchange showed.

The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) finished down 1.8 percent.

Retailers came under pressure amid concern about monetary tightening and market regulation, analysts said.

Lotte Shopping fellamid speculation the retail giant would participate in bidding for Korea Express .

Hana Financial Group was also done on speculation that a rights issue would be part of Hana's financing plans for its Korea Exchange Bank acquisition. Details of the plan are expected to be announced later
today.

Hanwha fell after local media reported that a South Korean court had ruled against Hanwha Group in its request to get back a downpayment for the acquisition of Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering.

Australian stocks closed 0.2 percent higher after bourse operator ASX rallied on improved prospects for its planned tie-up with Singapore Exchange and financial stocks firmed after some big banks reported record earnings.

Buying in Commonwealth Bank of Australia also
buoyed the local market, which closed higher for the seventh straight consecutive session, as investors digested Wednesday's record result.

However, Telstra shares were unmoved afterposting a 36 percent fall in first-half profit.

Rio Tinto reported a record second-half profit after the market closed on Thursday, more than double a year earlier and matching forecasts. The miner's stock closed 0.3 percent higher at A$88.68 before the result came out.

BHP Billiton ended 0.04 percent higher at A$46.76.

ASX shares were a top gainer, up 4.7 percent, on the view that London Stock Exchange's bid for Canadian stock market operator TMX and Deutsche Boerse's talks with NYSE Euronext would give ASX ammunition to sway Australian politicians opposed to the merger with SGX.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 ended up 9.6 points at 4,914.4, according to the latest data. The market has closed firmer for the last seven trading sessions.

China's main stock index ended up 1.6 percent, led by a rebound in property and bank shares, which fell the previous day following an interest rate rise by the central bank.

Analysts said investors also bought software and agricultural companies which are considered a safe bet due to friendly government policies to support the sectors.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index was at 2,818.2 points, breaking through the key 250-day moving average, now at 2,803 points, after dropping 0.9 percent on Wednesday.

Shares in SAIC Motor, the country's top automaker, jumped by its 10 percent daily limited in the final minutes of trade.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng tumbled 1.75 percent, weighed down by a slump on H-shares.

Shares of Chinese oil major PetroChina dropped after the state-owned company agreed to buy a C$5.4 billion ($5.4 billion), stake in Encana Corp's Canadian shale gas project, the largest-ever Chinese investment in a foreign natural gas asset.

Singapore stocks were 0.9 percent lower, in line with other Asian bourses and weighed down by concerns of further interest rate hikes and a drop in SingTel earnings.

By mid day, the Straits Times Index (STI) was down 27.29
points at 3,123.27.

SingTel fell 1.3 percent, amid concerns that poor earnings from its Indian associate Bharti Airtel may continue to weigh.

The FTSE CNBC 100 Index fell 0.7 percent.

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