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Asian shares traded mixed on Wednesday, as investors remain cautious over the latest global geopolitical developments in the wake of Paris terror attacks.
Wall Street's Monday rally was short-lived, with the major averages struggling to hold higher in late afternoon trade on Tuesday, giving up an intraday gain that briefly took the S&P 500 into positive territory for the year and pushed the up more than 100 points on the back of solid earnings reports from Home Depot and Wal-Mart.
The DJIA closed up 0.04 percent at 17,489.5 points, the S&P 500 down 0.13 percent at 2,050.44 and the Nasdaq up 0.03 percent at 4,986.02.
Commodity prices took a tumble overnight with falling to near six year low. The precious metal hovered near $1,067 in Asian trade. Oil prices also edged up on Wednesday after reports of falling stockpiles and rising refinery activity but it will remain under pressure for the rest of the year, according to Reuters.
Greater China markets unable to hold to early gains
Chinese markets trimmed off early gains following the release of the October home-price index and ended in negative territory after Beijing moved to once again intervene in the market.
Investors did not react positively to the People's Bank of China's latest round of market intervention. Offshore yuan clearing banks and related offshore participant banks are no longer able to trade in bond repos and account finance, said Reuters, citing people close to the matter. Restriction of capital outflows would keep the exchange rate stable as China awaits the International Monetary Fund's decision on the yuan's inclusion to the reserve currency basket.
Despite the move, the yuan fell against the strong at the close of Wednesday's trading session, hovering at 6.3840.
The fell by close to one percent while the smaller Shenzhen composite saw even bigger losses, ending near a 2 percent decline. The Chinext composite and the CSI 300 index also registered substantial declines at market close.
Home prices in China rose in 27 out of 70 cities for October, with Shenzhen and Shanghai seeing the biggest percent change year-on-year. Beijing saw a modest 6.5 percent increment in home prices. Nationally, the prices rose 0.1 percent on-year, after falling 0.9 percent on-year in September, according to Reuters calculations based on the official data.
October's home prices consolidated six consecutive months of increments as China's property market slowly bounces back.
Erwin Sanft, head of China strategy at Macquarie told CNBC's "Asia Squawk Box " that while the bounce in home prices was good news for the economy. "Home prices in China are in a very nice upward trajectory," he said. "I would say the nationwide statistics don't show the extent to which home prices have rebounded in Tier 1 and Tier 2 cities."
Sanft added that in the previous week, an entire property development in Shenzhen was sold out in six hours. "It set a record in terms of single day transaction value," he said.
The home price data gave major Chinese property stocks a boost. Real estate developer Vanke was up by 4.8 percent while Gemdale was saw a 4 percent uptick. State-owned Poly Real Estate also gained 6 percent while Shanghai Shimao was up 3.5 percent.
China Citic Bank was the biggest gainer on the Shanghai composite, as its shares soared over 9 percent. Shares of its parent company Citic was also up significantly. This follows yesterday's announcement that its chairman, Wang Dongming, proposed he will not be standing for re-election to the board. while Haitong Securities saw a 3.57 percent uptick.
Away from the mainland, Hong Kong's was down nearly 0.3 percent in afternoon trading.
Commodity trader and miner Glencore was down 4 percent lower on the back of falling copper prices. The Swiss-based trader has pledged to cut its net debt by $10 billion by end of 2016 and reduce its copper output to lift prices, according to reports. The London Metal Exchange benchmark copper was down to $4,590 a tonne on Tuesday, hitting its lowest in over six years on fears of slowing global demand.
Nikkei finishes in positive territory, trims early gains
Japan's trimmed back some of its early gains as news about two Paris-bound flights from the U.S. being diverted due to security reasons. Japan Airlines shares were down 1.16 percent while ANA closed near flat as investors took in the news.
But the dollar's overall strength saw positive gains for export-oriented stocks. Japanese car markers such as Toyota, Nissan, Honda, and Mazda all ended in positive territory while consumer electronics giant Sony ended the session flat.
Elsewhere, shares of Softbank closed with a near one percent gain after the internet and telecommunication giant announced plans to issue 370 billion yen ($2.97 billion) in straight bonds for retail investors in December.
Meanwhile, Toshiba opened the trading day in red after reports emerged that Japan's securities watchdog is likely to recommend a fine of about 7.5 billion yen ($60 million) for the scandal that engulfed the company earlier in the year. Toshiba was found to have overstated $2 billion in profits, reports said. The accounting scandal led to a shakeup of its senior management as the company continues to rebuild its image.
Shares of Toshiba were down nearly 0.7 percent at close.
On the retail side, shares of Fast Retailing, which owns apparel giant Uniqlo, inched up marginally. This was after Uniqlo announced a new five-year agreement worth one trillion yen ($8.1 billion) with Japanese textile company, Toray.
Kospi closes near flat
South Korea's Kospi trimmed its gains from the morning session to close just under the previous day's session, ending at 1962.88.
Hyundai shares also closed in the positive, on the back of the car manufacturer's announcement last week about the introduction of its luxury brand 'Genesis'. Its production will begin in December with a total of six models in the pipeline, according to reports. The Genesis brand is set to take on rivals in the luxury car segment such as Mercedes and BMW.
Meanwhile, Lotte shares closed near a 4 percent low as investors took in the news of founder and Chairman Shin Kyuk-ho filing a complaint against senior leaders in the group's subsidiaries. The group recently failed to retain its license from the Korea Customs Service for its duty free shop in Seoul.
ASX closes higher despite sell-off in resource stocks
Australia's ASX 200 benchmark index closed higher as strong banking stocks helped to counter a sell-off in resource stocks following an overnight fall in commodity prices.
"Commodities were once again the biggest talking point in trade overnight," said Evan Lucas, market strategist at IG, in a note, stating "the complex as a whole is trading at its lowest levels in over 15 years."
Rio Tinto, Fortescue Metals, South32, Atlas Iron, and BHP Billiton closed in negative territory, between 2.5 and 4 percent, following the decline in iron ore and copper prices. Newcrest shares fell over 4 percent as gold prices languished near a six-year low.
Orica, an explosives and mining services company closed 2 percent higher after trading mostly in positive territory in the afternoon session. The company wrote down the value of its assets due to slower demand from the resources sector. The company reported a net loss of 1.27 billion Australian dollars (US$900 million) for the year through September.
Meanwhile scrap metal merchant Sims Metal announced plans this morning to buy back up to 10 percent of its issued stock over the next year. Its shares were trading at $7.240 a share.
Bank stocks finished in the positive territory, closing near one percent or higher than the previous session.
The Australian dollar was flat at $0.7092 against the U.S. dollar at the end of the afternoon session.