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Asia equities end mixed; New Zealand hits record high

Asia stocks ended mixed in quiet trade on Wednesday following a sharp rally on Wall Street and higher oil prices.

Markets in Japan were shut for the Emperor's Birthday. The region is expected to see quiet trading for the rest of the week amid the Christmas holiday break. Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore and the Philippines will be open for a half-day on Thursday while Japan and China will be the only major markets open on Friday.

Overnight, the Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped nearly 200 points after the final estimate for U.S. third quarter gross domestic product was revised down to 2 percent from a previous 2.1 percent, but that still beat expectations for a 1.9 percent reading. Meanwhile, U.S. crude and Brent crude added 1 percent each on Wednesday, extending the previous session's rally.

Headlines from the China's Central Economic Work Conference (CEWC), an annual meeting of Communist Party leaders, also boosted sentiment. Officials hinted at additional monetary and fiscal easing in early 2016 and announced several reforms, including increasing the fiscal deficit ratio, reducing industrial overcapacity and easing property oversupply.

But analysts questioned whether the increased fiscal and monetary support will be enough to lift slowing economic growth.

"Chinese officials themselves are expecting an L-shaped recovery rather than a V-shaped rebound, highlighting ongoing stresses. The fact that economic conditions in China remained lukewarm despite significant stimulus spending in the third quarter points to rapidly contracting private demand, as can be evident from multi-year lows in the prices of coal, iron ore and steel," said economists at Mizuho Bank in a morning note.

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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Shanghai down 0.4%

China's Shanghai Composite erased gains in the final hour of trade, snapping a two-day winning streak, while the blue-chip CSI300 index retreated after hitting a new a four-month high for the second straight session. The yuan strengthened to 6.4780 per dollar, weaker than the central bank's mid-point rate of 6.4731.

Brokerages rallied sharply; Haitong Securities and CITIC Securities shot up 3.6 and 6 percent, respectively.

In Hong Kong, the benchmark index jumped 1 percent with oil plays leading the gains. Petrochina, Sinopec and CNOOC rose more than 3 percent each.

ASX up 0.5%

Australia's resource-heavy S&P ASX 200 index ended at its highest level since December 7th, logging a sixth session of gains, while the local dollar was flat against the greenback, well off a one-month low of $0.7097 hit last week.

Miners rallied as iron ore prices trade above $40 a ton. Fortescue Metals and Rio Tinto jumped 3 and 4 percent respectively while BHP Billiton rose more than 3 percent despite news that it will release the findings of a law firm hired to determine the cause of a dam burst at one of its Brazilian mines.

Atlas Iron popped 6 percent following a 12 percent rally earlier as the miner announced a debt restructuring deal in which lenders would be issued 70 percent of shares.

New Zealand's benchmark NZ 50 added nearly 1 percent to hit a fresh record high of 6,206 points, eclipsing its previous record of 6,162 hit earlier this month.

Kospi 0.3% higher

South Korea's Kospi hit a fresh three-week high for the second consecutive session, supported by steelmakers. Posco and Hyundai Steel ended 3.5 and 5.7 percent higher, respectively,

Index heavyweights Hyundai Motor and Kia Motors both lost over 1 percent on news both automakers will buy stakes in affiliate firm Hyundai Capital from General Electric for a combined $600 million.

Emerging markets mixed

Indonesia's Jakarta Composite dipped 0.2 percent while Thai and Malaysian shares jumped nearly 1 percent each.