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Asian equity markets weighed by geopolitical fears

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While fresh geopolitical fears after Turkey shot down a Russian warplane sent most Asian equities lower, oil prices and some energy plays saw gains.

After initially declining in Asian trading hours, Brent and Nymex tacked on 0.4 percent and 0.5 percent, respectively, after rallying as much as 3 percent overnight on news of a downed Russian jet near the Syrian border. Turkey shot down the warplane on Tuesday after Ankara claimed it entered Turkish airspace, but Moscow has rejected those claims. President Vladimir Putin called the downing "a stab in the back," and warned it would have serious consequences for the Russian-Turkish relationship.

So far, the U.S. and NATO both support Turkey's right to defend its sovereignty, according to a While House statement.

Energy plays rallied. Among Australia-listed plays, LNG jumped 7.4 percent and Santos added 3.5 percent. In Japan, Inpex rose 1.2 percent and Hong Kong-listed Cnooc gained 3.2 percent.

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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Asian travel-related stocks were also in focus since the downing of the plane is one in a series of recent incidents that point to an escalation of the conflict in the Middle East, with Russia bombing ISIS targets in Syria in support of President Bashar Al-Assad. In Australia, airline Qantas fell 1.6 percent, Tokyo-listed Japan Airlines shed 0.9 percent and Singapore-listed Singapore Airlines fell 0.7 percent.

Meanwhile, a mostly flat finish on Wall Street overnight added to weak sentiment in Asia. The Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 closed up 0.1 percent each, while the Nasdaq finished little changed.

China stocks mixed

The benchmark Shanghai Composite ticked up 0.3 percent, while the Hang Seng Index slipped 0.2 percent.

Brokerages declined despite news that China's securities regulator lifted rules implemented in July that required them to buy more shares than they sold each day for propriety trading. The rules were imposed after a months-long market rout.

"This could improve sentiment towards the Chinese market and brokers as the emergency measures during market rescue are gradually phased out," Credit Suisse said in a note Wednesday. "The notice is further supporting evidence that regulators may perceive the market has returned to normalcy, which we believe will reduce investors' concern in relation to policy risk on China brokers and improve sentiment."

But brokerage shares on the mainland still fell, with Shanghai-listed Citic Securities fell 1.5 percent and Haitong Securities shed 0.2 percent.

In Hong Kong, Cheung Kong Infrastructure Holdings slipped 0.7 percent after losing a bid to buy utility firm Power Assets Holdings.

Nikkei down 0.4%

The Nikkei 225 shed the previous session's gains, closing down 0.4 percent, with sentiment dampened by minutes of the Bank of Japan's October 30 meeting, in which members said the Japanese economy was likely to grow at a slower pace in 2017 due to sales tax hikes.

Heavyweight electronic exporters fell, with Sony and Panasonic clsing down 1.9 percent and 1.7 percent respectively. After a three-session, 25 percent surge in shares of Sharp on news that banks may forgive its loans, the stock erased a nearly 15 percent intraday rise to close flat.

Yahoo Japan declined 1.5 percent after ratings agency S&P revised the firm's outlook from stable to negative due to weak operating performance.

Kospi falls 0.2%

Seoul's Kospi traded in a narrow range, finishing down 0.4 percent. Car makers lost ground, with Hyundai Motor shedding 2.3 percent and Kia Motors falling 3.4 percent.

ASX loses 0.6%

Australian stocks ended down, with several banks trading lower. Three of Australia's four biggest banks, ANZ, Commonwealth Bank of Australia and NAB ended down 0.8-1.2 percent.

Emerging markets higher

Southeast Asian stocks bucked Asia-wide weakness, with the Jakarta Composite, Philippine PSI and Kuala Lumpur Composite between 0.2-0.7 percent higher each.