Asia Markets

Asia markets close mixed as sell-off in Chinese stocks eases

Key Points
  • Asian shares closed mixed on Friday
  • The sell-off in Chinese shares eased after mainland indexes tumbled almost 3 percent in the last session
  • Mitsubishi Materials lost 8.07 percent after the company said some of its units had falsified product data

Asian markets closed mixed on Friday, following a quiet overnight trading session with U.S. markets closed for the Thanksgiving holiday. Chinese stocks ended the week more than 1 percent lower after a heavy sell-off in the previous session.

Markets on the move 

Japan's Nikkei 225 reversed early losses to close up 0.12 percent at 22,550.85 as markets reopened for trade after a day off. Losses were seen in automakers and manufacturing names. Technology stocks were a mixed picture: Nintendo rose 3.55 percent, SoftBank Group gained 1.4 percent and Sharp was down 1.26 percent by the end of the day.

Across the Korean Strait, the Kospi tacked on 0.28 percent to end at 2,544.33, with tech heavyweight Samsung Electronics gaining 0.29 percent. Financials drifted slightly lower.

Down Under, the S&P/ASX 200 shed 0.06 percent to close at 5,982.55. The industrials and information technology sub-indexes fell 0.42 percent and 0.74 percent respectively by the end of the session.

In China, the benchmark eked out gains of 0.06 percent to close at 3,353.82 after trading in negative territory earlier in the day. The index finished the week 1.14 percent lower. The Shenzhen Composite meanwhile lost 0.09 percent to end at 1,922.72, closing the week down 2.5 percent. The blue-chip CSI 300 index, which suffered its largest one-day fall since June 2016 on Thursday, closed higher by 0.04 percent after choppy trade.

Insurers closed mostly lower, although banks and brokerages finished the session mixed. Airlines finished the session with significant gains, with China Eastern Airlines rising 4.98 percent on the day.

A combination of tighter rules for online micro-lenders and firmer bond prices were seen as reasons for the declines on Thursday. Stocks hit by the recent sell-off had in fact risen in the past weeks and still boasted relatively good fundamentals, according to market watchers. "There was panic selling in the market," said Ronald Wan, chief executive at Partners Capital International.

Hong Kong's fared better in comparison, climbing 0.54 percent by 3:25 p.m. HK/SIN after closing 1 percent lower on Thursday. Still, the index remained below the 30,000 mark that it topped for the first time in a decade earlier this week.

European equities closed little changed on Thursday, with trade volumes weaker than usual. The pan-European STOXX 600 finished the session up 0.02 percent. In individual markets, France's CAC 40 rose 0.5 percent and Britain's FTSE 100 edged down 0.02 percent by the end of the day.

U.S. markets have a shortened trading day on Friday.

The lead up

On the data front, the European composite Purchasing Managers' Index released overnight rose to 57.5 in November. A Reuters poll had projected the figure to remain unchanged from October's reading of 56. That showing suggested broad-based recovery in the euro zone.

The euro held onto gains on the back of Thursday's upbeat economic indicators. The common currency traded at $1.1849 at 3:05 p.m. HK/SIN after climbing as high as $1.1859 earlier in the session.

The dollar remained on the back foot against a basket of major currencies following cautious minutes from the Federal Reserve. The dollar index stood at 93.195 at 3:06 p.m. HK/SIN, compared to Thursday's close of 93.118. Against the yen, the greenback was a touch firmer at 111.47.

Corporate news

Shares of Mitsubishi Materials tumbled 8.07 percent by the end of the day in Tokyo after the company acknowledged that some of its units falsified product data to meet requirements. That news followed a similiar data falsification scandal at Kobe Steel.

Australian department store chain Myer reversed earlier losses to closed up 1.41 percent after the company's annual general meeting on Friday. The retailer's board recently faced off against Solomon Lew, a dissident shareholder whose Premier Investments group has a 10.77 percent stake in Myer, according to local media.

Also in retail news, e-commerce giant Amazon launched trial operations in Australia on Thursday, Reuters reported. An Amazon employee declined comment on the matter, the wire service said.

SenseTime Group, a Chinese artificial intelligence company, intends to launch an initial public offering, Reuters reported on Thursday. SenseTime is also attempting to expand in the U.S., with plans to begin a research and development unit in the country as early as 2018 in the works.

The commodities trade

U.S. West Texas Intermediate tacked on 0.83 percent to trade at $58.50 per barrel, near the two-year high of $58.58 touched in the previous session. While Thursday trade had been lighter than usual, prices had been supported by the closure of the Keystone pipeline, as well as the drawdown in U.S. inventories.

Brent crude futures edged down 0.05 percent to trade at $63.52.