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Asia shares end mostly lower, but resilient after terror attack

A cyclist goes past a quotation board flashing share prices of the Tokyo Stock Exchange (TSE) in front of a securities company in Tokyo.
Toru Yamanaka | AFP | Getty Images
A cyclist goes past a quotation board flashing share prices of the Tokyo Stock Exchange (TSE) in front of a securities company in Tokyo.

Asia markets ended mostly lower Wednesday, but remained relatively resilient after a terrorist attack in Belgium Tuesday.

The Japanese benchmark Nikkei 225 index closed down 47.57 points, or 0.28 percent, at 17,000.98, after finishing nearly 2 percent higher Tuesday. Across the Korean Strait, the Kospi ended down 0.08 percent, or 1.69 points, at 1,995.12. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index lost 0.48 percent in late afternoon trade.

Chinese markets closed up, with the Shanghai composite adding 11.42 points, or 0.38 percent, at 3,010.79. The Shenzhen composite finished up 21.74 points, or 1.15 percent, at 1,902.53.

Australia's ASX 200 index finished down 24.35 points, or 0.47 percent, at 5,142.26, weighed by losses in the financials and energy subindexes, down 0.4 and 1.08 percent respectively.

Asia markets, like their European and U.S. counterparts, mostly shrugged off a series of deadly explosions that rocked Belgium's capital on Tuesday. The bombings at Zaventem airport and the Maelbeek metro station killed at least 31 people and injured more than 230, according to reports.

Symbol
Name
Price
 
Change
%Change
NIKKEI
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HSI
---
ASX 200
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SHANGHAI
---
KOSPI
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CNBC 100
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Wei Liang Chang, an FX strategist at Mizuho Bank, said in a note that risk appetite was initially dampened by the Brussels attacks during European trading hours, with "safe havens such as the [Japanese yen] and Treasurys rallying, while equities and emerging Asian currencies came off."

"However, many of these moves were later reversed, showing investor sentiment to be relatively unflappable given support from central bank easing," he added.

Markets were also fairly quiet, with many traders taking to the sidelines ahead of the long Good Friday holiday weekend.

Mining stocks Down Under ended mostly lower, with Rio Tinto reversing early losses to close flat and BHP Billiton losing 1.68 percent. Fortescue shares were lower by 4.36 percent. Base metal prices on the London Metal Exchange (LME) were lower, with three-month copper down 0.33 percent, while three-month aluminum slipped 0.23 percent. Iron ore prices were a touch lower at $57.90 a tonne from $58 on Monday.

Oil prices retreated during Asian hours, with global benchmark Brent crude lower by 1.01 percent at $41.37 a barrel, after finishing up a tad in U.S. trade. U.S. crude futures were lower by 1.16 percent at $40.97, after ending lower by 7 cents in U.S. hours.

Reuters reported the American Petroleum Institute said in a report that U.S. crude stockpiles rose almost 9 million barrels last week to reach nearly 532 million.

Asian energy plays were mostly lower, with Santos off 0.76 percent, Woodside Petroleum down 0.88 percent and Inpex losing 1.34 percent. Chinese mainland shares of China Oilfield were down 0.45 percent and PetroChina was down 0.13 percent.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar was flat at $0.7616 as of 1:18 p.m. HK/SIN time after climbing over the $0.76 level late Tuesday as Reserve Bank of Australia Governor Glenn Stevens suggested further easing may not be on the cards in the near term, unless current economic conditions drastically changed.

The Japanese yen remained at 112 handle, after the pair fell to the 111 level last week. The dollar/yen pair traded at 112.36 Wednesday afternoon local time. Major exporters were mixed, with Toyota adding 0.13 percent, Nissan down 1.06 percent and Honda down 1.26 percent.

Major indexes in the U.S. closed mixed, with the Dow Jones industrial average down 0.23 percent, the S&P 500 lower by 0.09 percent and the Nasdaq composite up 0.27 percent.

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