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Asian Stocks Close Mixed as Investors Ponder on Syrian Crisis

By Investors Hub

Asian stocks turned in another mixed performance on Tuesday as a slew of Chinese data proved to be a mixed bag and investors watched developments in Syria.

China’s Shanghai Composite Index tumbled 43.14 points or 1.4 percent to 3,067.52 after the release of mixed data. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index slid 252.84 points or 0.8 percent to 30,062.75 as the Hong Kong Monetary Authority stepped in to support the local currency for a sixth time in less than a week.

Official data showed China’s gross domestic product rose 6.8 percent in the first quarter on a yearly basis, in line with expectations but down from 6.9 percent in the previous quarter.

Chinese industrial production and fixed asset investment rose in March, but missed forecasts, while retail sales growth exceeded expectations.

Japanese shares ended roughly flat as the dollar softened against the yen ahead of a meeting between Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. President Donald Trump. The Nikkei 225 Index edged up 12.06 points or 0.1 percent to 21,847.59, while the broader Topix Index closed 0.4 percent lower at 1,729.98.

Takeda Pharmaceutical rallied 2 percent after Shire, which faces a potential bid from the Japanese firm, agreed to sell its oncology business to French pharma group Servier for $2.4 billion.

Financial stocks fell broadly, with Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group and MS&AD Insurance all ending down over 1 percent.

Australian shares closed marginally higher, led by miners after aluminum prices surged to their highest level in six years on Monday amid concerns about supply disruptions because of U.S. sanctions against Russian producer RUSAL.

Markets gave up early gains following the Reserve Bank’s comments that the country’s inflation rate will pick up gradually and the next move for its benchmark lending rate was likely to be an increase rather than another cut.

Both the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index and the All Ordinaries Index closed marginally higher at 5,841.50 and 5,934.30, respectively. Rio Tinto, Fortescue Metals Group and South32 rose between 0.2 percent and 0.8 percent.

Whitehaven Coal surged up 3 percent after saying it expects thermal coal prices to remain buoyant. Wesfarmers inched up 0.2 percent after confirming it did not hold any shares in troubled New Zealand builder Fletcher Building.

Meanwhile, wealth manager AMP tumbled 4.4 percent after it admitted to misleading the corporate regulator 20 times about its business practices.

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Dipo Olowookere is a journalist based in Nigeria that has passion for reporting business news stories. At his leisure time, he watches football and supports 3SC of Ibadan.

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