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Asian Stock Markets Finish Mixed

By Investors Hub

Asian stocks ended mixed on Wednesday as investors digested a slew of regional data and looked ahead to cues from the U.S. Federal Reserve meeting for any indications on interest rates.

Underlying sentiment remained cautious in the wake of falling oil prices, rising bond yields and U.S. President Donald Trump’s tough rhetoric on immigration and North Korea during his first State of the Union address.

China’s Shanghai Composite Index dipped 6.50 points or 0.2 percent to 3,481.51 after a government report showed activity in China’s vast manufacturing sector expanded at a slower pace in January. The official PMI slipped to 51.3 from December’s 51.6.

Growth in the services sector picked up pace, with the corresponding PMI rising to 55.3 from 55 in December.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index advanced 279.98 points or 0.9 percent to 32,887.27.

Japanese shares fell for the sixth straight session as the yen rose against the dollar on concerns over political wrangling on U.S. immigration policy. Investors largely ignored positive readings on the country’s industrial production and consumer confidence.

The Nikkei 225 Index fell 193.68 points or 0.8 percent to 23,098.29, while the broader Topix index closed 1.2 percent lower at 1,836.71. While mining companies and steelmakers led the losses, Advantest jumped 5.7 percent after raising its profit forecast.

NEC Corp rallied 3.8 percent after the electronics maker said it was seeking to reduce its domestic workforce by 3,000 people.

Australian shares reversed early declines to close higher, led by realty stocks. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index rose 14.90 points or 0.3 percent to 6,037.70, while the broader All Ordinaries Index ended 0.2 percent higher at 6,146.50.

Miners Rio Tinto and Fortescue Metals Group fell over 2 percent after the release of disappointing Chinese manufacturing data.

Commonwealth Bank eased 0.3 percent after it was sued for alleged rate rigging by the nation’s securities regulator. Westpac ended marginally lower, while ANZ and NAB rose 0.4 percent and 0.2 percent, respectively.

Energy majors Santos and Oil Search dropped 1-2 percent as oil extended losses for a third straight session on signs of rising U.S. crude output.

Property developer Scentre Group rallied 2.7 percent and Stockland Corp advanced 1.4 percent after both headline and core inflation figures for the December quarter came in slightly below expectations.

Cancer treatment specialist Sirtex Medical soared as much as 46 percent after it accepted a $1.6 billion takeover offer from Varian Medical Systems.

Modupe Gbadeyanka is a fast-rising journalist with Business Post Nigeria. Her passion for journalism is amazing. She is willing to learn more with a view to becoming one of the best pen-pushers in Nigeria. Her role models are the duo of CNN's Richard Quest and Christiane Amanpour.

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