Asia Markets

Asian shares mixed; Nikkei drops 1.3%

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Asia markets struggled on Thursday and closed mixed, with the Japanese benchmark down more than 1 percent after Toshiba tumbled on credit downgrades.

Japan's closed down 1.32 percent or 256.6 points at 19,145.14, weighed by pressure from a stronger yen and Toshiba's plunging shares.

Shares of Toshiba were down 16.98 percent at 258.7 yen each after both Moody's and S&P Global Ratings downgraded Toshiba credit ratings and put the electronics conglomerate on ratings watch with negative implications.The downgrades come after the Japanese firm announced Tuesday it might have to recognize several billion dollars in write-downs related to its U.S.-based nuclear plant construction company acquisition.

Takata shares were positive amid a sea of red, trading up 16.47 percent or 100 yen to 707 yen each to hit its daily price limit. The airbag maker's shares rose on overnight news that it was nearing a settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) and is expected to pay up to $1 billion to resolve allegations of criminal wrongdoing related to its faulty air bag inflators, Reuters said, citing the Wall Street Journal.

Asian markets open in the red

Down Under, the ASX 200 closed up 0.25 percent or 14 points at 5,699.07, supported by a 3.25 percent gain in its all ordinaries gold sub-index.

South Korea's Kospi ended up 0.1 percent, or 2 points at 2,026.46.

South Korea's finance ministry also revised its 2017 gross domestic product forecast for 2017, down to 2.6 percent from 3.0 percent earlier. Seoul also reported that industrial output jumped 3.4 percent in November from the previous month, its strongest monthly gain in almost seven years.

The closed down 0.18 percent or 5.7 points at 3,096.56 and the Shenzhen composite ended down 0.31 percent or 6.1 points at 1,966.24. Hong Kong's was nearly flat by 3:05 pm local time, ahead of its November trade figures which will be released after the market close.

Over at Wall Street, major U.S. indices tumbled as the possibility of the Dow reaching its psychological 20,000 mark before the year ends grew increasingly elusive.

The finished down 0.56 percent at 19,833.68, the S&P 500 closed 0.84 percent lower to 2,249.92 and the composite finished down 0.89 percent to 5,438.56.

"U.S. indices pulled back from all-time highs, and currencies and commodities largely marked time as professional investors tweaked market exposures," said Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist at CMC Markets, in a note on Thursday.

In currency markets, the Japanese yen strengthened against the dollar, fetching 116.33 as of 3:06 pm HK/SIN, compared with levels above 117.44 yesterday. The Australian dollar retraced above $0.72, to trade at $0.7204. The South also firmed up against the dollar, at 1,206.92.

The dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of six major currencies, last traded at 102.81.

Outlook for yuan remains bearish: Expert

The Chinese yuan was trading at 6.954 against the dollar as of 3:07 pm HK/SIN, The daily yuan midpoint was set lower at 6.9497, compared to its last close at 6.956.

The People's Bank of China dismissed a media report late on Wednesday that the yuan had weakened beyond the 7.0000 per dollar level in the onshore market on Wednesday, and called the report "irresponsible" in its microblog.

The yuan has seen persistent pressure on the back of large capital outflows, and has depreciated 6.46 percent year-to-date against the greenback.

U.S. crude futures were last trading down 0.41 percent at $53.84 a barrel, while Brent futures inched up 0.02 percent at $56.23.

Oil prices had gained on Wednesday in the U.S. for the fourth straight session, but turned negative in post-settlement trade after American Petroleum Institute data showed a surprise build in U.S. stockpiles.

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