Asia-Pacific Markets

Asian Stocks Close Mixed, Tokyo Slides on Abe's Resignation

Asian markets finished mixed Wednesday with Tokyo stocks closing lower on news that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had resigned.

The Nikkei 225Average closed lower on following a shock resignation announcement by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, with the Nikkei down by 0.5% as political uncertainty weighed on the market amid thin trade.  Sales of futures contributed to the decline, which saw shares of banks such as Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group slide.

But surging U.S. crude oil prices lifted oil counters across the region with Australia's Santos and Woodside Petroleum, Japan's Nippon Oil and Inpex Holdings and South Korea's SK Energy all advancing.

South Korea's KOSPI shed 1.8% as firms dependent on China such as POSCO fell on concern South Korea's top export destination will raise its interest rates as early as this week due to higher inflation. Lenders such as Kookmin Bank also fell a day after Standard and Poor's said core profitability in the sector is facing pressure, while Hyundai Merchant Marine dived 10.7% on news regulators are probing a recent surge in its share price for signs of illegal activity.

Australia's S&P/ASX 200 Index closed 0.2% lower, reversing earlier gains, as persistent
worries about the health of the U.S. economy kept U.S.-focused firms like CSL under pressure, off-setting gains in miners on strong metal prices. Losses on other Asian marketsalso dampened sentiment.

Hong Kong stocks closed 1.5% higher, tracking gains on Wall Street, as property plays hit life highs on optimism of a U.S. rate cut, while energy shares climbed after crude prices hit a record close. Ports-to-telecoms conglomerate Hutchison Whampoa rallied in heavy trade after a newspaper said it planned to sell its Italian 3G mobile operating arm, 3 Italia.

Singapore's Straits Times Index was pushing higher by 3%, with gains in banks and oil shares such as Labroy Marine.

Chinese shares reversed an early decline to close higher by 1.2%.