Asia-Pacific Markets

Asian Markets Close Mixed, but South Korea Sets New Record

Asian markets finished mixed Monday, with South Korea closing at a new record high while China closed having reached record intra-day peaks. Trading volume was thin with Japanese markets closed for a one-day holiday.

The influential non-farm payrolls report released last Friday showed U.S. employers added 110,000 jobs in September and August's job losses were revised to a gain, helping lift worries about a U.S. recession in the near term.

The Australian dollar hit a new 23-year high of $0.9023 in early trading, while the Japanese yen , which is used to fund carry trades, came under selling pressure.

South Korea's KOSPI closed 0.8% higher to hit another record, surpassing its prior late July peak, as LG.Philips LCD surged a day ahead of what are expected to be solid earnings results, while STX Pan Ocean rallied after UBS acquired a stake.

Australia's S&P/ASX 200 Index rose 0.7%, after hitting a lifetime high during the session, with U.S.-focused firms like James Hardie Industries gaining on renewed optimism about the U.S. economy, while firmer base metal prices lifted mining firms.

Singapore's Straits Times Index suffered a late-session fall to close flat from previous gains of 1%. Shares of Singapore-listed Yangjiziang Shipbuilding, Yanlord Land, SIA Engineering and Wilmar International gained on news that they will be included in the revamped Straits Times Index next year.  The new 30-stock STI will replace the 48-stock index in January.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng also opened strongly, but gave up gains to close 0.2% lower. Blue chips rose and China plays were also firm gainers as mainland financials tracked sharp gains in their Shanghai-traded shares as Chinese markets reopened after a week-long national holiday. Investors also focused on mainland names like China Life, driving up the Hong Kong-listed shares in mainland companies. Shares in Chinese property developer SOHO China rose as much as 23% in their Hong Kong trading debut after it raised $1.65 billion in an initial public offering.

China's Shanghai Composite Index finished 2.5% higher, boosted by leaps in several top financial shares, as the market reopened after a week-long holiday break.  Hong Kong-listed H shares surged while Shanghai was on holiday last week, so Shanghai-listed A shares -- particularly those of financial heavyweights such as Industrial & Commercial Bank of China and China Life Insurance jumped in response, lifting the market to new record highs.