Asia Markets

Asia markets mixed; Toshiba board meeting eyed after shares fall 11.6%

Toshiba Corp says it could book a loss of several billions

Asian shares were mixed on Tuesday amid low-volume holiday trading, despite strong growth in China's industrial profits in November. Investors also awaited a board meeting for Japan's Toshiba after shares dropped sharply.

The finished down 0.24 percent, or 7.57 points, at 3,115, while the Shenzhen composite closed nearly flat, up 0.069 percent, or 1.36 points, at 1,979.73. Real estate company Vanke led the gains, up 3.78 percent, while China Eastern Airlines fell 1.87 percent and China Petroleum & Chemicals shed 1.94 percent.

China's National Bureau of Statistics said that profits earned by large industrial firms rose 14.5 percent in November from a year earlier, a big jump from a 9.8 percent increase in October, on the back of a strong rebound in raw material prices and a low base last year.

The index closed nearly flat, up 0.03 percent, or 6.42 points, at 19,403.06, after economic data showed the Japanese economy still had some way to go before meeting the Bank of Japan's 2 percent inflation target.

Shares of Toshiba plunged 11.62 percent to 391.6 yen per share, after it opened untraded due to heavy sell orders. The electronics giant expects to book a one-off loss of about 100 billion yen ($850 million) on a U.S. nuclear power acquisition made by its Westinghouse operation last year, the Nikkei business daily reported. Toshiba said it would hold a board meeting on the issue later on Tuesday.

Japan's core consumer price index (CPI) slipped 0.4 percent on-year in November, compared with the market consensus forecast for a 0.3 percent fall, while November household spending also fell 1.5 percent from the previous year. Meanwhile, the jobs-to-applicants ratio rose to 1.41 from 1.4 in October, its highest level since July 1991.

In South Korea, the Kospi closed up 0.22 percent, or 4.42 points, at 2,042.17.

A Bank of Korea survey released Monday showed consumer sentiment plunged to its worst level in more than seven and a half years in December, amid a political scandal and volatile financial markets.

Markets in Hong Kong, Australia and New Zealand were shut for public holidays.

In other news, security forces remain on high alert amid the festive period. On Christmas Day, the Australian police said they prevented attacks in Melbourne, while the Indonesian police killed two suspected Islamist militants in a shootout, as part of a series of raids aimed at preventing planned attacks. Last week, the Indonesian anti-terrorism police force killed three suspects in Jakarta, foiling a planned suicide bombing.

Asian markets open mixed

Over in the U.S., markets had closed mostly flat on Friday, as the once again failed to hit the psychological level of 20,000. The blue-chip index rose just 0.07 percent to finish at 19,933.81. The S&P 500 index was up 0.13 percent at 2,263.79 and the closed up 0.28 percent at 5,462.

In the currency markets, the dollar index traded at 103.02, compared with levels as high as 103.25 last week. The greenback fetched 117.22 yen, while the Australian dollar remained under pressure at $0.7188, at its lowest since May.

The weakened against the dollar, at 1,206.59, near an 11-month high.

U.S. crude futures were up 0.17 percent at $53.11 a barrel during Asian trade on Tuesday, while Brent futures slipped 0.11 percent at $55.10.

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