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Asian Shares Mixed In Thin Trade

(RTTNews) - Asian stocks ended mixed on Thursday, even as a slew of weak U.S. data on private sector job growth, trade balance and service sector growth reinforced expectations for a near-term interest rate cut by the Federal Reserve.

China's Shanghai Composite index gave up early gains to end down 10.01 points or 0.33 percent at 3,005.25.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng index finished down 0.21 percent at 28,795.77 after a survey showed Hong Kong's private sector contracted further in June, with declines in business activity and export orders from mainland.

Japanese shares rose even as the dollar slipped against the yen on Fed rate cut hopes. The Nikkei average edged up 64.29 points or 0.30 percent to 21,702.45 in thin trading amid a national holiday in the U.S. The broader Topix index closed 0.65 percent higher at 1,589.78.

A rise in the Baltic Dry Index helped lift shipping stocks, with Mitsui OSK Lines climbing 1.7 percent and Kawasaki Kisen surging 3.7 percent. Discount furniture store operator Nitori Holdings jumped 4 percent after reporting higher sales in the March-May quarter.

Australian markets extended gains for a fourth straight session, with banks leading the surge.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index gained 32.50 points or 0.49 percent to finish at 6,718, a fresh 11-and-a-half year high. The broader All Ordinaries index ended up 30.80 points or 0.45 percent at 6,800.90.

The big four banks rose between 0.8 percent and 1.3 percent on hopes for a third Australian rate cut in 2019 as retail sales figures disappointed yet again and job vacancies fell from record highs.

Australia's retail sales logged a marginal growth in May indicating weak consumer spending in the economy, a government report showed.

Retail sales rose 0.1 percent month-on-month in May, offsetting a 0.1 percent drop in April. Sales were forecast to climb 0.2 percent.

Another report showed that the number of job vacancies fell 1.1 percent from preceding period in the May quarter but grew 1.8 percent from the previous year.

Retirement home operator Aveo Group rallied 2.8 percent after it received a takeover offer from Canada's Brookfield Asset Management Inc.

Miners fell on profit taking, with Fortescue Metals Group falling 2.1 percent.
Lithium miner Pilbara Minerals slumped as much as 5.8 percent.

Seoul stocks closed higher to snap a four-session losing streak as Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki warned of possible countermeasures against Japan if it keeps restrictions on exports of high-tech materials to its companies for a long time.

The Kospi average rose 12.71 points or 0.61 percent to 2,108.73. Market heavyweight Samsung Electronics advanced 1.3 percent ahead of its preliminary earnings release due on Friday.

New Zealand stocks hit another record high in intra-day trade before closing off their day's highs.

The benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index hit as high as 10,580.43 before paring gains to end the session up 13.85 points or 0.13 percent at 10,558.28, led by dual-listed banks such as ANZ and Westpac.

Malaysia's KLSE Composite index was down 0.2 percent. The country's exports rose at a faster-than-expected rate in May, while imports grew less-than-forecast, data from the Department of Statistics revealed.

Overnight, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.7 percent, while the S&P 500 and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite gained around 0.8 percent.
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