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Asian markets finish strong despite Fed concerns

Investors look at computer screens showing stock information at a brokerage house in Qingdao, Shandong province, China.
China Daily | Reuters
Investors look at computer screens showing stock information at a brokerage house in Qingdao, Shandong province, China.

Asian equities bucked the trend on Wall Street overnight and finished strongly even as investors continue to mull a likely interest rate hike by the U.S. Federal Reserve in December.

U.S. markets closed in the red on Thursday but were still up on the week. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 4.41 points or 0.02 percent lower to finish at 17,732.75. The S&P 500 closed down 2.34 points, or 0.11 percent, at 2,081.24, dragged lower by the healthcare sector. The Nasdaq closed down 1.56 points, or 0.03 percent, at 5,073.64.

Chinese markets finish at over a week high

Chinese markets stayed in line with the positive trend in Asian equity markets and closed in the green. The Shanghai composite closed at its highest level in over a week, with a 14-point, or 0.38 percent, increase to finish at 3631. The smaller Shenzhen composite also finished at its highest level in more than a week, climbing 29 points or 1.3 percent, to close at 2286.

Banks, financial services and investment corporations continued to take a hit and closed in the red, following news that the People's Bank of China will further slash interest rates on the loans it gives to banks. The Chinese yuan strengthened on the back of this news, rising 0.02 percent to trade at 6.3815 against the dollar.

Major banks such as ICBC, Agriculture Bank, Bank of China, CCB and Bank of Commerce all saw losses of just under 1 percent as investors remained cautious about further intervention from Beijing.

Brokereages such as Citic Securities, Haitong Securities, Founder Securities, and China Merchants all lost close to 2 percent.

Energy players such as Sinopec, PetroChina were down 0.58 and 0.66 percent respectively on the back of low oil prices while China Oilfield Services shares ticked up 0.28 percent in the afternoon.

Nikkei races to a strong close

After spending much of the trading day shunning Thursday's gains, the Nikkei 225 raced to close on a 3-month high, up 3 points, or 0.10 percent, to 19880.

Earlier in the day, the Ministry of Finance announced on Friday it will be issuing 2.5 trillion yen ($20 million) of two-year government bonds.

IG's Angus Nicholson said in an afternoon note that despite the volatility, there is still some serious momentum in the Nikkei with "64 percent of stocks trading above their 200-day moving average, the highest level since 22 August."

Most export-oriented stocks, however, closed in the red. Blue chip companies Sony and Toyota closed near 0.5 percent lower while Canon, Toshiba, and Mitsubishi Electric ended in positive territory. Automakers Nissan, Toyota, Honda, and Mazda also closed lower.

Electronics manufacturer Sharp gave away some of the strong gains in the morning session to close 6 points or 4.8 percent higher, after the company said it expects its TV operations to be profitable in 2016.

Kospi closes near a 1-week high

The Seoul Kospi closed near a 1-week high, despite trading relatively flat throughout the trading day.

Earlier in the morning, data showed that growth in South Korea's disposable household income slowed for the quarter. Third quarter income grew only 0.2 percent in real terms, the slowest pace in nearly two years, according to reports.

Korean retail brands remained on investors' radar after South Korea's Supreme Court ruled in favor of allowing more restrictions to be placed on giant retailers.

Reports said the court ruled in favor of a ruling that restricts retailers such as E-mart, Homeplus, and Lotte Mart on the operating hours of their stores. The rule is said to be an attempt to protect small businesses from larger counterparts.

Retail shares were trading mixed after the open. Shares of Samsung C&T, which owns numerous fashion brands in the country, E-mart and Shinsegae were down. Hyundai Department Store saw its stocks trade in the green, up some 3 percent while Lotte Shopping was unchanged in the afternoon session.

Car manufacturers Kia Motors and Hyundai Motor also saw a selloff in their shares as investors continued to digest the data on real household income.

Symbol
Name
Price
 
Change
%Change
NIKKEI
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HSI
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ASX 200
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SHANGHAI
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KOSPI
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CNBC 100
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ASX closes at a 3-week high

Australia's ASX 200 closed at a 3-week high, finishing 5 points, or 0.10 percent higher than the previous session at 5,248, despite a slow start to trading day as investors remained cautious following Wall Street's uninspiring finish.

Banks finished strong. Commonwealth Bank of Australia led the pack of the four biggest banks in the country, closing 0.7 points, or 0.87 percent, higher.

Resource producers finished the session mixed. Iron ore producer BC Iron ended strong, near a 4 percent uptick while Rio Tinto and Fortescue saw their shares slip. Shares of Mount Gibson closed 5 percent higher after research firm Morningstar gave it a buy rating.

Gold producers Newcrest Mining, Evolution Mining, and Kingsgate mining saw their shares close in positive territory, following a bounce-back in gold prices. Gold traded at $1,082 in the Asian trading session.

Oil producers also traded mixed. Shares of Santos was down near 5 percent while Woodside saw declines of 1.6 percent. Oil Search climbed back to positive territory in the afternoon session. Oil ticked up to $40.59 in Asian trade.