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Asian shares mostly recover with China markets closed

Pedestrians walk past a share price board of the Tokyo Stock Exchange in Tokyo.
Kazuhiro Nogi | AFP | Getty Images
Pedestrians walk past a share price board of the Tokyo Stock Exchange in Tokyo.

Asian stocks mostly recovered on Thursday as investors took heart in a positive finish on Wall Street overnight.

Trading was relatively calm compared to the nerve-wracking roller-coaster rides in the previous sessions, with mainland share markets closed as the country's commemorates the end of World War Two. Chinese stock markets will reopen Monday.

"Away for the Victory Day long weekend today and tomorrow, China's 'bed rest' means that a break from Shanghai stock gyrations will make for much less nail-biting," a note from Mizuho Bank said.

"[However,] respite in global equities may only reflect temporarily allayed concerns about whether the rest of the world was going to catch a cold from China's sneeze," Mizuho analysts added.

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The gains also came as major U.S. indexes climbed overnight amid volatile trade. The Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 rallied more than 1.8 percent in the close to end near session highs, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite outperformed with gains of 2.46 percent to pull out of correction territory.

Symbol
Name
Price
 
Change
%Change
NIKKEI
---
HSI
---
ASX 200
---
SHANGHAI
---
KOSPI
---
CNBC 100
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Nikkei gains 0.5%

Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 index pulled back from an intra-day high of 18,481, but still managed to snap a four-day losing streak, thanks to the inspiring handover from Wall Street and weakness in the yen.

Meanwhile, data which showed activity in Japan's services sector expanded at the fastest pace in almost two years may have also contributed to the buoyant trading sentiment. The Markit/Nikkei Japan Services Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) rose to a seasonally adjusted 53.7, from 51.2 in July, to hit the highest since October 2013.

Among gainers, heavyweight component Fanuc charged up 1.3 percent, while export-oriented plays such as Toyota Motor, Nissan Motor and Canon attracted hefty buy orders of around 2 percent.

Toshiba shares closed up 2.1 percent after a report by the Yomiuri newspaper said the company may report long-delayed earnings as early as this week.

NTT Docomo jumped 4.4 percent after Barclays upgraded its stock to "overweight" from 'underweight" and raised its target price to 3,000 yen.

Despite the gains on Thursday, some analysts remain cautious on the outlook of the Tokyo bourse. IG market analyst Angus Nicholson, for one, says the key stock index remains "very delicate, with a high likelihood of further downside risks."

"While the Nikkei has been performing better today, it's meeting strong resistance at the 18,500 level. A renewed test of its lows last week around the 17,750 level looks quite feasible over the coming sessions. The gap between call and put options on the Nikkei has reached the widest gap since 2011, which is a strong indication of the prevailing negative sentiment on the index," he wrote in a note issued Thursday.

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ASX eases 1.4%

Australia's S&P ASX 200 index lost upward momentum by mid-morning trade to finish in negative turf, hurt mainly by a steep drop in Myer Holdings.

Myer shares slumped 20.6 percent after coming off a trading halt following the department store's A$221 equity raising announcement.

Other retailers Harvey Norman and JB Hi-Fi lost more than 4 percent each, after July retail sales unexpectedly slipped 0.1 percent on-month, missing expectations for a 0.4 percent rise and down from June's 0.6 percent rise.

"While periodic negative months are not unusual, particularly in an environment of low retail price inflation, a failure to see a bounce back in retail sales for August would be a concern in that consumer spending is one key sector of the economy helping to offset the mining investment slump," AMP Capital's head of investment strategy and chief economist, Shane Oliver, wrote in a note.

Losses in the banking sector also weighed on the bourse; Commonwealth Bank of Australia and National Australia Bank tumbled more than 2 percent each, while Australia and New Zealand Banking shaved off 1.7 percent.

Trade figures for July were also released on Thursday; the trade deficit improved to A$2.46 billion in July, from a revised A$3.05 billion, due to a rebound in export values, while imports stayed relatively flat.

Kospi flat

South Korea's Kospi index pared most of its early gains to finish near flat, after revised gross domestic product (GDP) showed the worst quarterly growth in more than six years for the Asia's fourth-largest economy.

The economy grew a seasonally adjusted 0.3 percent on-quarter in the April-June period, revised central bank data released before the market open showed, unchanged from its earlier estimate. On a year-on-year basis, South Korea's GDP for the second quarter expanded by 2.2 percent, also unchanged from its earlier estimate released on July 23.

Samsung Electronics, which unveiled its revamped Gear S2 smartwatch on Thursday, rose 2.9 percent. Other tech names such as LG Display and SK Hynix also surged 3.1 and 5.3 percent, respectively.

By contrast, counters in the consumer discretionary sector lagged. AmorePacific and LG Household & Healthcare retreated 4.6 and 0.4 percent, respectively, while Lotte Shopping closed down 1.9 percent.

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Indian indexes higher

Tracking the upbeat sentiment across the region, India's benchmark S&P BSE Sensex index and the 50-share Nifty index elevated over 1 percent each in early trade.