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Asian Equities Close Mixed as Investors Await Japan’s Rate Decision

By Investors Hub

Asian stocks ended mixed on Thursday as concerns over rising bond yields tempered investor optimism on the earnings front. Traders also awaited rate decisions from both the European Central Bank and the Bank of Japan.

China’s Shanghai Composite Index tumbled 42.12 points or 1.4 percent to finish at 3,075.85 amid growing fears of a trade war with the U.S. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index slumped 320.47 points or 1.1 percent to 30,007.68.

Australian shares finished slightly lower as banks succumbed to heavy selling pressure, weighed down by a weakening Aussie dollar and concerns about loan quality.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index dropped 10.80 points or 0.2 percent to 5,910.80 as trading resumed after a public holiday on Wednesday. The broader All Ordinaries Index ended down 6.40 points or 0.1 percent at 6,003.

Westpac Banking Corp closed down 3.6 percent after falling more than 4 percent earlier in the day to reach its lowest level in nearly two years. The other three banks fell around 2 percent.

Miners BHP Billiton and Fortescue Metals Group lost 1-2 percent, while energy stocks Woodside Petroleum, Oil Search, Santos and Origin Energy gained 1-2 percent, buoyed by a continued rise in oil prices.

Private hospital owner Healthscope soared 14.8 percent on takeover news. CSL shares advanced 2.4 percent.

Meanwhile, Japanese shares rose amid widespread gains in the technology sector following upbeat earnings results from the likes of Texas Instruments, Facebook and AMD.

The Nikkei 225 Index climbed 104.29 points or 0.5 percent to 22,319.61, while the broader Topix Index closed 0.3 percent higher at 1,772.13.

Tokyo Electron climbed 8.4 percent after the semiconductor equipment maker forecast strong profits for this fiscal year ending March 2019. Advantest surged 2.6 percent and Sumco Corp added 3.6 percent.

Seoul stocks rallied, led by technology stocks amid buying by foreign investors. The benchmark Kospi jumped 26.83 points or 1.10 percent to 2,475.64.

Market heavyweight Samsung Electronics surged up 3.5 percent after it posted a record quarterly profit, while Hyundai Motor slumped 4.6 percent after its first quarter profit nearly halved.

On the data front, South Korean gross domestic product jumped a seasonally adjusted 1.1 percent in the first quarter, the Bank of Korea said in a preliminary report. The increase follows the 0.2 percent decline in the three months prior.

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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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