Asian Markets Fall After China Rate Hike

Asian shares fell on Wednesday after China's latest rate hike, with a number of mainland property and resource stocks down throughout the trading day.

The People's Bank of China (PBOC) raised interest rates for the second time in just over six weeksto rein in stubbornly high inflation.

The Shanghai Composite Index , which reopened after the week-long Lunar New Year holiday, was broadly weaker.

The property sub-index in Shanghai fell 2.1 percent. That weighed on developers in Hong Kong, which have lagged the broader market this year after a strong second-half rally into the close of 2010.

Hong Kong's property sub-index fell 2.4 percent and is down 2 percent this year compared with Hang Seng Index's 1.3 percent advance. The Hang Seng declined 1.4 percent, its lowest closing so far this year.

Sino Land dropped 2 percent, while local bellwethers Sun Hung Kai Properties fell 2.2 percent and Cheung Kong (Holdings) eased 3.1 percent.

HSBC , which has a near 15 percent weighting on the HSI, gained 1 percent.

Banking shares were down by the end of the session. Industrial and Commercial Bank of China , the world's biggest bank by market capitalisation, slipped 0.2 percent.

Steelmakers and other commodity-related firms mostly fell, even though Shanghai futures for steel rebar and rubber hit record highs after the reopening of the market, catching up with price rises elsewhere during the past week.

Sentiment Dampens

The weakness in Shanghai dampened sentiment in other Asian markets.

Japan's Nikkei 225 edged lower to come off a nine-month high on Wednesday, as profit-taking in bank shares erased earlier gains made on upbeat earnings guidance from Toyota Motor.

Toyota Motor's shares jumped 5 percent after a U.S. government probe cleared its electronics of causing unintended acceleration, and after the automaker raised its annual outlook above market expectations.

Seoul shares extended losses to shed 1.2 percent on Wednesday, pressured by continued foreign selling and falls in automakers like Hyundai Motor after China's rate hike.

The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) finished down 1.17 percent at 2,045.58 points.

Sectors sensitive to Chinese demand, such as shipbuilders and chemicals makers, also retreated. Shares in Hyundai Heavy Industries fell 3.9 percent and Samsung Heavy Industries declined 6.4 percent.

Australian stocks rose 0.3 percent on Wednesday in their sixth straight session of gains, led by banks after top home lender Commonwealth Bank of Australiaposted a record first-half profit.

Shares of the big four Australian banks all rose between 1.3 and 2.3 percent, which helped push the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index above the 4,900 level for the first time since May 2010.

Rio Tinto traded up 1.2 percent ahead of its half year result due on Thursday, while BHP Billiton reversed an early gain to trade down 0.5 percent.

Shares in Australia's biggest building materials firm Boral rose 8.9 percent on opening after the company reported a 28 percent jump in half year profit.

Southeast Asian markets also traded lower. In Singapore, the Straits Times Index (STI) fell more than a percent. Property stocks such as CapitaLand lost ground. Malaysia's Kuala Lumpur Composite Index ended down 0.2 percent.

The FTSE CNBC 100 Index declined 0.5 percent.