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Asia markets lose momentum; Nintendo shares tumble after 'Pokemon Go' launch delay

Asia markets lost some momentum on Wednesday, closing mixed, while Nintendo shares took a tumble after reports said the launch of the highly popular "Pokemon Go" app in Japan had been postponed.

Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 closed down 41.42 points, or 0.25 percent, at 16,681.89, after finishing the Tuesday session at a six-week high.

Nintendo shares closed down 12.61 percent, paring some of its more than 16 percent intraday tumble, but that still dwarfed the stock's more than 100 percent surge since the wildly popular "Pokemon Go" mobile app was released on July 6.

Technology news portal TechCrunch said the highly anticipated launch of the app in Japan, the birthplace of Pokemon, has been delayed, after a previous report said the app was set to go live on Wednesday.

TechCrunch, citing sources, said game-maker Niantic decided to postpone the roll out of "Pokemon Go" in Japan after internal communication detailing the launch from McDonald's Japan, the game's sponsor, were leaked on the internet.

In South Korea, the Kospi closed lower by 1.43 points, or 0.07 percent, to 2,015.46. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index advanced 0.91 percent by late-afternoon trade. Chinese mainland markets closed mixed, with the Shanghai composite dropping 8.26 points, or 0.27 percent, to 3,028.33, while the Shenzhen composite finished nearly flat at 2,035.84.

Australia's ASX 200 finished up 37.44 points, or 0.69 percent, at 5,488.70. Most sectors finished up, but the materials sub-index closed down 1.37 percent. Miners remained in focus on the broader index as they released production reports.

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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BHP Billiton released its production numbers for the fourth quarter and year ended June 30 and gave guidance for fiscal 2017, saying that fourth-quarter iron ore production came in at 55,626 kilo tons (KT), down 7 percent on-year. Copper production was at 413 KT in the fourth quarter, down 5 percent on-year.

For fiscal 2017, BHP said it expected between 228 metric tons (MT) and 237 MT of iron ore production, excluding production from its Samarco mine, which was the site of a major dam-burst in Brazil in 2015.

BHP shares closed down 2.92 percent, after narrowly missing analysts' expectations as a result of the Samarco disaster, which caused the mine to suspend operations. Other major miners were also lower, with Rio Tinto finishing down 2.02 percent and Fortescue off 1.48 percent.

"Inklings of concern about China's support for its industrial sector are starting to hit metals prices, and commodity-linked sectors are exerting the biggest drag on equity indices globally," said Angus Nicholson, a market analyst at brokerage firm IG.

Shanghai steel rebar futures were mostly lower, but the August contract traded up 2.3 percent. Iron ore futures in Dalian traded lower, with the September contract down 1.17 percent.

Shares of Singapore-listed agribusiness group Wilmar International tumbled 6.87 percent in late-afternoon trading. Reuters reported the group said it expects to report a net loss of about $230 million for the second quarter; the group also expects lower profit for the half-year ended June 30.

CIMB downgraded Wilmar International to Reduce from a previous Hold rating, with analysts saying the preliminary net loss figure was below expectations for a profitable second quarter.

"Although the group had warned of a challenging operating environment in the second quarter, we had not expected it to sink into its first quarterly losses since listing," the analysts wrote in a Tuesday note.

"This is the first time that the profits of other segments were not able to cushion the losses from its oilseeds and grains division. This could raise concerns over the low visibility of the group's earnings," the analysts said.

Patrick Baza | AFP | Getty Images

In the currency market, the dollar traded higher against a basket of currencies at 97.251, up from levels near 96.00 last week.

"The outperformance of the U.S. economy, safety of U.S. assets and steady monetary policy makes American investments attractive and keeps the dollar in demand," said Kathy Lien, managing director for foreign exchange strategy at BK Asset Management.

"We continue to look for the dollar to outperform, with further losses expected for many major currencies," she said.

The Japanese yen traded at 106.09 against the greenback, with the pair off an earlier session high of 106.29. The yen has weakened considerably from levels near 100 two weeks earlier, with the market anticipating upcoming fiscal and monetary stimulus from Japan.

The Australian dollar traded at $0.7476, down from Monday's level over $0.76, likely due to fresh concerns over China, said analysts.

"Detailed Chinese gross domestic product (GDP) data underlined how much stimulus and credit to the industrial and construction sectors bailed out a weakening economy. This is not good news for the Aussie dollar," Nicholson said.

Oil prices declined during Asian hours, with global benchmark Brent a touch lower at $46.64 a barrel from its last close at $46.66. U.S. crude futures fell 0.16 percent to $44.58.

The Dow Jones industrial average closed up 26 points, or 0.14 percent, at 18,559.01. The S&P 500 dropped 3.11 points, or 0.14 percent, to 2,163.78, while the Nasdaq composite finished 19.41 points lower, or 0.38 percent, at 5,036.37.

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