Asia Markets

Sydney, mainland shares underperform on China property data


Asian bourses turned mixed late Tuesday, with Sydney and mainland indices underperforming on the back of a steeper-than-expected fall in China's property prices.

Average new home prices in China's 70 major cities fell 2.6 percent in October from the year-ago period, after falling an annual 1.3 percent in September, according to Reuters calculations of official data.

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Wall Street was little moved overnight, with the S&P 500 recording its 42nd record close of the year, as comments by European Central Bank President (ECB) Mario Draghi helped offset data that showed Japan's economy unexpectedly entered a technical recession. Speaking to the European Union's Parliament, the ECB chief said the central bank's governing council remains "unanimous in its commitment to using additional unconventional instruments if needed."

Tokyo soars 2.2%

Japan's Nikkei 225 index recouped more than half of Monday's steep losses, jumping above the 17,000 level on Tuesday, as investors awaited Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's announcement on possible elections and a delay in the planned sales tax hike following Monday's grim third quarter growth report.

According to Japan's daily business newspaper Nikkei, Abe shared his plan to postpone the tax hike for as long as 18 months and said he intends to call an election for the parliament's lower house.

On why Japanese shares were quick to overlook Monday's shocking news that the country had fallen into a technical recession, Benjamin Pedley, Head of Investment Strategy, Asia at HSBC, told CNBC's "Street Signs Asia": "Remember 2010 to 2012, bad data from the U.S. produced equity market gains [and that's] what we've seen lately. Disappointing Japan data means more weakness [which] means more QE [and] that means Nikkei up."

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Sony led gains after it said it was aiming to garner up to $11 billion in revenue from its movie business in three years time. Shares of the tech giant closed up 6.4 percent.

Meanwhile, the dollar-yen traded at 116.6 as the Bank of Japan commenced its monthly policy meeting on Tuesday. Observers expect the central bank to leave its monetary policy unchanged after shocking global financial markets at the end of October by expanding its already-massive asset-buying program.

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Mainland shares lower

China's Shanghai Composite index extended Monday's losing streak to drop 0.7 percent, following worse-than-expected home prices data. As such, property stocks tumbled; Poly Real Estate and China Merchants Property receded 2.5 and 1.8 percent, respectively.

Hong Kong shares ceded early gains to hit a fresh one-and-a-half-week low of 21,499.

This was the second consecutive losing session for mainland markets after yesterday's debut of the landmark Hong Kong-Shanghai stock connect. The top gainers that attracted most "northbound trade" on Monday succumbed to profit-taking; Daqin Railway fell over 4 percent while Kweichow Moutai traded nearly 3 percent lower.

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Sydney dips 0.2%

Australia's S&P ASX 200 index closed near a three-and-a-half-week low, as declines in mining stocks weighed on the bourse.

Fortescue Metals slumped 6.6 percent as iron ore futures traded on the Dalian Commodity Exchange fell to a record low of 493 yuan per tonne. Rio Tinto also plunged nearly 1 percent.

"We have iron ore prices at five-year lows and investor confidence in the sector has dissipated. It's the perfect environment for short sellers and strength is being taken advantage of as an opportunity to sell," wrote IG's market strategist Stan Shamu in a note.

Meanwhile, minutes from the central bank's previous policy meeting showed board members feeling "considerable uncertainty" about the outlook of China's property market and its impact. Reserve Bank of Australia governor Glenn Stevens will give a speech at 1500 SIN/HK.

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Seoul jumps 1.2%

South Korean shares snapped a three-day losing streak to touch a one-week high on Tuesday, boosted by anticipation of more stimulus from the ECB.

Overnight, Samsung Electronics held its investors forum in New York and announced plans to reduce the number of models by 25-30 percent next year so as to focus on R&D and developing markets. Shares of the electronics giant rose 1.2 percent.

Nifty near record highs

Indian shares finished flat on Tuesday after hovering near record highs. Earlier, shares peaked at an all-time high of 8,454.