Asia Markets

Asia stocks mixed as Ebola, China concerns offset US gains


Asian equities were mixed on the last trading day of the week as concerns over Ebola and China offset gains on Wall Street.

A doctor in New York tested positive for the Ebola virus, the New York Times reported early on Friday, after returning from West Africa last week. Speaking at a press conference, New York Mayor de Blasio said officials believe "very few" people had contact with the doctor since his return. Markets reacted quickly to the news, with the Japanese yen strengthening 0.3 percent against the greenback and Dow futures dropping over 70 points before paring losses.

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Meanwhile, attention in Asia was on China where official data showed new home prices falling 1.3 percent on year in September, the first annual drop in nearly two years. The report heightened concerns over the country's property market, which many experts say poses the single biggest risk to the economy.

U.S. stocks surged on Thursday, with all three major indices climbing over 1 percent each, following strong third-quarter results from Caterpillar, 3M and General Motors. Data showing the flash composite purchasing managers index (PMI) for the euro zone rose to 52.2 in October, from 52 in September, helped to ease some of the global growth concerns that recently plagued markets.

Nikkei climbs 1%

Japanese shares rose to a two-week high, rebounding following Thursday's 0.4 percent decline, despite the yen moving off a two-week low against the greenback. A stronger currency usually pressurizes exporter shares.

Ebola-related firms rallied; air filter manufacturer Airtech Japan surged 17 percent and health protection device maker Shigematsu Works popped 10 percent. Fujifilm jumped 2.5 percent on hopes that its influenza drug will cure the virus.

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For the week, the benchmark Nikkei rose 5 percent, making it the best performer among Asian indices.

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Shanghai flat

China's benchmark Shanghai Composite index ended at a one-month low for the fourth straight day after a choppy session of trade.

Real-estate developers were mixed following September's home price data; Gemdale rallied over 1 percent while Vanke dipped 0.1 percent.

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Railway firm CNR rallied 1 percent after winning a contract to supply subway trains to Massachusetts.

Hong Kong shares extended losses into a second day, down 0.3 percent, before closing down 0.13 percent. China Construction Bank eased after posting its slowest profit growth in five years during the third-quarter. Telecom equipment maker ZTE jumped after quarterly profit surged 191 percent.

ASX up 0.5%

Australia's S&P ASX 200 closed at a new one-month high after snapping a seven-day winning streak on Thursday. For the week, the index closed up 1.7 percent.

Qantas Airways rallied nearly 4 percent after saying that it expected to return to underlying profitability in the first quarter of 2015,

Resmed, a maker of sleep therapy products, soared over 6 percent after reporting better-than-expected quarterly revenue.

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Kospi dips 0.3%

South Korean shares reversed early gains as investors weighed the latest earnings. Before the market open, data showed gross domestic product rising 0.9 percent on quarter in the July-September period, in line with estimates.

In earnings news, Kia Motors rose 0.2 percent after reporting an 18.6 percent decline in quarterly profit and steelmaker POSCO tanked over 2 percent despite operating profit rising to its highest in five quarters.