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Asia markets shrug off Wall Street's slide to close higher; Nikkei climbs 1.5%

  • Asian shares advanced on Thursday
  • Energy stocks in most markets rose as oil prices steadied
  • Santos shares popped after the company said it was not in talks over a proposed takeover bid
  • Yixin Group rose 30 percent on its debut in Hong Kong, but later pared some gains
  • The Australian dollar climbed after employment rose for the 13th consecutive month

Asian equities shrugged off the softer lead from Wall Street to close higher on Thursday as oil eked out slight gains during Asian trade.

Markets on the move 

The Nikkei 225 bounced 1.47 percent, or 322.8 points, to close at 22,351.12 to snap a six-day losing streak as financials, retailers and most tech names rose. Fast Retailing closed up 1.42 percent, Nintendo gained 3.95 percent and SoftBank advanced 2.21 percent on the day. Energy-related plays traded mixed.

South Korea's benchmark Kospi index tacked on 0.63 percent by 3:00 p.m. HK/SIN. Trading hours had been pushed back by an hour on Thursday. Blue-chip tech names and manufacturing stocks were mostly higher, with Samsung Electronics advancing 0.87 percent. Energy-related stocks also climbed as refinery company S-Oil rose 2.13 percent by 2:58 p.m. HK/SIN.

Down Under, the S&P/ASX 200 edged up 0.16 percent to close at 5,943.51 with the heavily-weighted banking sub-index climbing 0.13 percent in the session. The energy sub-index jumped 1.89 percent on the day after taking a beating earlier in the week following the declines in oil prices.

The positive sentiment was also mirrored in greater China markets. The Hang Seng Index rose 0.67 percent by 3:00 p.m. HK/SIN. On the mainland, the Shanghai Composite reversed early gains to close 0.08 percent lower at 3,399.86 and the Shenzhen Composite rose 0.23 percent to end at 2,010.13.

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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Stateside, equities finished the Wednesday session lower as declines in oil prices weighed on energy-related stocks. Investors also focused on the likelihood of proposed tax reforms getting passed before year-end.

The Dow Jones industrial average lost 138.19 points, or 0.59 percent, to close at 23,271.28 — its lowest finish in more than three weeks.

The lead up

Oil prices inched higher after declining on Wednesday when a U.S. government agency report showed the build in crude stockpiles was larger than estimated. U.S. West Texas Intermediate rose 0.13 percent to trade at $55.40 per barrel and Brent crude futures traded 0.24 percent higher at $62.02.

Stateside, the closely-watched consumer price index rose by just 0.1 percent in October compared to the 0.5 percent rise seen in September, which was in line with a forecast from economists in a Reuters poll.

Other U.S. data released on Wednesday included retail sales, which edged up 0.2 percent in October. That was above a Reuters poll in which economists had expected the metric to be unchanged, but still softer than the 1.9 percent rise in September.

Following those releases, the dollar was little changed against a basket of currencies at 93.803 at 2:47 p.m. HK/SIN after trading as low as the 93.4 handle on Wednesday. The greenback, meanwhile, was firmer against the Japanese currency, with the dollar last trading at 113.05 yen.

Investors also kept an eye on the U.S. Treasury yield curve, which was at its flattest in 10 years as markets anticipated a December interest rate hike from the Federal Reserve.

Corporate news 

Fairfax's real estate classifieds unit, Domain, began to trade on the Australian Securities Exchange on Thursday under the "DHG" ticker. The unit had been spun off from Fairfax after shareholders voted for the move earlier this month. Fairfax shares closed up 7.67 percent after tumbling more than 30 percent in early trade.

Shares of Santos popped, rising 13.01 percent by the end of the session. The company said it had rejected a takeover bid from Harbour Energy in August and had not received a current proposal. The company's announcement came after the Australian Financial Review reported earlier in the day that the oil and gas company was the target of a proposed 11 billion Australian dollar ($8.34 billion) takeover.

Elsewhere, Yixin Group, a Tencent-backed online platform for car sales, made its debut in Hong Kong on Thursday. Shares were priced at HK$7.70 ($0.98) apiece — the top end of the price range — and the IPO is expected to raise around HK$6.5 billion ($833 million), the company said in a filing. Yixin shares were up 6.8 percent at 3:06 p.m. HK/SIN after spiking some 30 percent at their open.

Meanwhile, Tencent reported net profit rose 69 percent to 18 billion yuan ($2.72 billion) for the quarter that ended in September, easily beating the average 15.18 billion yuan forecast by analysts in a Thomson Reuters poll. The Chinese internet company said its revenue increased 61 percent to 65.2 billion yuan. Tencent shares rose 2.19 percent by 3:06 p.m. HK/SIN following the beat in earnings.

Currency watch 

The Australian dollar got a boost after a Thursday data release showed employment increased for the 13th consecutive month in October. The currency traded at $0.7593 at 2:42 p.m. HK/SIN after touching as high as $0.7609 earlier in the session. The Aussie dollar had fallen as low as $0.7570 in the last session following the release of weak wage data.