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Most Asia markets close higher as Aussie dollar tumbles; Nikkei 225 win streak ends

  • Asian stocks closed with slight gains
  • The Nikkei 225 closed down after gaining for the last 16 sessions
  • The Australian dollar tumbled after CPI missed expectations
  • China's new leadership line-up was unveiled

Most major indexes in Asia closed higher on Wednesday as the Australian dollar fell to its lowest levels in three months after inflation missed expectations.

The Nikkei 225 lose 97.55 points, or 0.45 percent, to close at 21,707.62. A late sell-off in the last hour of trade brought an end to the benchmark index's 16-day winning streak notched on Tuesday.

Across the Korean Strait, the Kospi extended gains, rising 0.08 percent to close at 2,492.50 as markets digested the release of quarterly earnings. The index had set a record high in the last session on expectations for strong corporate earnings.

Down Under, the S&P/ASX 200 advanced 0.14 percent to close at 5,905.6, as miners led gains on the broader index. The energy and materials sub-indexes were up 1.24 percent and 1 percent respectively, although those gains were partially offset by losses in the telecommunications and consumer staples sub-indexes.

Meanwhile, the Australian dollar fell to its lowest levels since July after third-quarter inflation released Wednesday missed expectations. The consumer price index for the third quarter increased by 1.8 percent, below estimates of 2 percent, Reuters said. The Australian currency traded at $0.7717 after falling as low as $0.7712 in the session.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index rose 0.41 percent by 3:19 p.m. HK/SIN and mainland markets were slightly firmer: The Shanghai Composite added 0.3 percent to close at 3,398.3041 and the Shenzhen Composite rose 0.779 percent to end at 2,025.3169.

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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China's new leadership line-up was unveiled on Wednesday, with only Chinese President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang the only two members staying on in the seven-man Politburo Standing Committee.

The country's 19th Party Congress concluded on Tuesday. Of note, Xi's name was officially enshrined in the party's constitution on the last day of the event.

Elsewhere, earnings were in focus in South Korean markets, with several notable companies releasing quarterly reports on Wednesday.

Shares of LG Display popped after reporting that third-quarter profit had risen 81 percent compared to one year ago. Operating profit for the period stood at 586 billion won ($519 million). LG Display shares closed up 0.17 percent after rising more than 3.4 percent earlier in the session.

Stateside, tax reform was in the news. House Republicans will introduce a tax bill on Nov. 1, a source told CNBC. The plan's release will follow an expected House vote on a budget measure passed by the Senate last Thursday.

Stocks on Wall Street closed higher following the release of several strong quarterly corporate reports. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 0.72 percent, or 167.80 points, to close at a record 23,441.76. Other major indexes made moderate gains.

President Donald Trump's choice for the next Federal Reserve chair was also in focus. Trump on Tuesday attempted to get the views of Senate Republicans at a lunch meeting. While many reportedly did not participate in the impromptu poll, South Carolina Sen. Stanford University economist John Taylor seemed to have scored highly, according to one report.

The dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of currencies, was little changed. The dollar index stood at 93.948 at 3:15 p.m. HK/SIN. The greenback was a touch softer against the Japanese currency, last fetching 113.82 yen compared to a session high of 113.97.

In corporate news, the president of Taiwan-listed China Airlines said the company intended to order a minimum of 20 Airbus or Boeing narrow body aircraft by year-end, Reuters reported. Shares of the airline closed up 0.82 percent.

Meanwhile, Indian software company Infosys on Tuesday reported that second-quarter profit increased by 3.3 percent, topping expectations. Profit for the quarter ending Sept. 30 rose 3.4 percent compared to the year before to 37.26 billion rupees ($573.03 million). Analysts' average estimate been for 35.23 billion rupees, Thomson Reuters data said. Infosys stock was up 1.13 percent by 3:14 p.m. HK/SIN.

In other equities news, shares of HNA Holding traded in Hong Kong spiked 25.93 percent on the day by 3:09 p.m. HK/SIN. The jump in share price was due in part to no additional measures related to acquisitions and capital controls being mentioned during the now-concluded 19th Party Congress, the Financial Times reported.

In currencies, the euro was a tad firmer ahead of the European Central Bank's Thursday meeting. Investors are expecting details from the central bank on tapering in its quantitative easing program. The common currency traded at $1.1764 at 3:16 p.m. HK/SIN.

"Whatever the outcome, the ECB is likely to sound a very cautious tone stressing that inflation is below target, the need for ongoing monetary accommodation and the flexibility it retains in adding to the planned QE purchases if necessary," ANZ Research said in a morning note.

The pound was mostly flat, trading near its lowest levels in about two weeks. Reuters attributed the decline to a lack of certainty over the Bank of England's interest rates decision at its next meeting. Sterling last traded at $1.3116 after falling as low as $1.3108 in the session.

On the energy front, oil prices were mixed after rising more than 1 percent overnight. Saudi Arabia's energy minister had said cutting oil inventories to their five-year average was a priority, Reuters reported. Brent crude rose 0.24 percent to trade at $58.47 a barrel and U.S. crude futures lost 0.19 percent to trade at $52.36.

— CNBC's Jacob Pramuk contributed to this report.