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Asian Equities Close Broadly Lower on Possible US Action in Syria

By Investors Hub

Asian stocks closed broadly lower on Thursday as concerns over possible U.S. military action in Syria and hawkish statements from the Federal Reserve dented investors’ risk appetite.

Traders also awaited cues from the U.S. earnings season, which kicks off with a bang on Friday as some of the largest banks and financial services companies report their quarterly results.

China’s Shanghai Composite Index fell 27.88 points or 0.9 percent to 3,180.20 amid rising Middle East tensions, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index dipped 66.43 points or 0.2 percent to 30,831.28.

Chinese foreign direct investment increased slightly in March, the Ministry of Commerce said. Foreign direct investment into China rose 0.4 percent year-on-year to CNY 88.14 billion in March. In the first quarter, FDI climbed 0.5 percent.

Japanese shares fell slightly as the dollar sagged against the yen on concerns about possible U.S. military action against Syria. The Nikkei 225 Index edged down 26.82 points or 0.1 percent to 21,660.28, while the broader Topix Index closed 0.4 percent lower at 1,718.52.

Convenience store operator Lawson fell almost 5 percent after the company said its fiscal year operating profit for year ending February 2019 will likely fall by 8.8 percent. On the positive side, Aeon jumped 4 percent after reporting a 14 percent rise in annual profit.

Japan Petroleum jumped 3 percent after oil prices hit their highest level in more than three years overnight. Japan’s Fast Retailing rallied 2.1 percent. The Uniqlo owner raised its annual profit forecast after reporting a 35 percent increase in its second quarter operating profit.

Household goods retailer Ryohin Keikaku soared 5.2 percent. The company said it expects an 11 percent rise in its net profit for the year through February 2019.

Australian shares closed modestly lower after Trump warned of imminent U.S. military action in Syria. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index dropped 13.20 points or 0.2 percent to 5,815.50, and the broader All Ordinaries Index ended down 14.40 points or 0.2 percent at 5,911.40.

The big four banks fell between 0.3 percent and 0.8 percent, while miners BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto rose 0.7 percent and 0.3 percent, respectively.

Energy stocks also closed broadly higher after oil prices hit their highest level since late-2014 on Wednesday. Oil Search, Origin Energy and Beach Energy rallied 1-2 percent.

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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