Asian Stocks Close Mostly Higher, China Falls

Asian stocks finished mostly in the green Wednesday, following a quiet trading day with a couple of markets closed for public holidays. The U.S. dollar hit another record low against the euro after weak U.S. economic data boosted expectations the Federal Reserve will cut interest rates again next month.


U.S. figures on Tuesday showed consumer confidence sank unexpectedly to a near two-year low in September, while another report said the pace of existing home sales fell last month. The data cemented expectations that the U.S. central bank will follow up last week's 50 basis point rate cut with more easing to shield the world's biggest economy from a housing slump and financial turbulence.

Tokyo's Nikkei 225 Average finished just slightly higher as investors bought recently battered shares such as mobile phone carrier Softbank and banks like Mizuho Financial Group.

Australian shares barely moved, as global miner BHP Billiton pulled back from recent record levels, offsetting gains in banking shares and rumored takeover target Brambles.

Singapore's Straits Times Index ended up 0.7%, with shares of Cosco as much as 5.7% higher after Citigroup upgraded the stock's target price to S$6.55 from S$5.70 on the shipbuilder's recent $724.4 million worth of contract wins. Citigroup said in a client note that it had raised the company's earnings forecast, and maintained a "buy" recommendation on Cosco shares.

Chinese shares bucked the positive trend and finished the day sharply lower as a decline in airlines offset gains in securities sector.

Markets in Hong Kong and South Korea are closed for public holidays. Both will resume trading on Thursday.