Asian stocks ended on a mixed note Wednesday after U.S. stocks ended mostly lower overnight amid profit taking following recent gains, which came on hopes the global economic recovery can weather risks from the Omicron virus variant and tightening monetary policy.
Chinese shares fell in cautious trading as a lockdown of 13 million people in the Chinese city of Xian entered its seventh day. The Shanghai Composite Index fell 33.11 points, or 0.9 percent, to 3,597, dragged down by consumer staple and banking stocks. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index ended down 194.02 points, or 0.8 percent, at 23,086.54.
Japanese stocks closed lower in thin year-end trading as investors braced for a feared rebound in coronavirus cases at the start of New Year’s holidays.
The Nikkei 225 Index dropped 162.28 points, or 0.6 percent, to 28,906.88, with transportation equipment, retail and communication sectors in focus. The broader Topix closed 0.3 percent lower at 1,998.99.
J. Front Retailing soared 7.4 percent and Tokyo Electric Power rallied 3.5 percent, while Bridgestone, AGC and Sapporo Holdings lost 3-4 percent.
Meanwhile, Australian markets rose for a fifth straight session to close at a 3-1/2 month high despite the country’s Covid-19 infections surging to a fresh record due to the rapid spread of the Omicron variant.
The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index jumped 89.50 points, or 1.2 percent, to 7,509.80, while the broader All Ordinaries Index surged 95.60 points, or 1.2 percent, to close at 7,840.30.
Buying was seen across the board, with financials and energy stocks leading the surge. Mining heavyweights BHP and Rio Tinto ended on a flat note despite copper prices hitting a one-month high.
Chalice Mining soared 7.8 percent after the platinum explorer said it was closer to begining drilling at its Julimar project in Western Australia.
Seoul stocks ended notably lower due to ex-dividend trades and profit taking after a recent string of gains. The Kospi fell 26.95 points, or 0.9 percent, to 2,993.29 amid selling by institutional and foreign investors. Tech and auto stocks were among the prominent decliners.
In economic news, sentiment among South Korean businesses over the economic situation improved this month due to export growth, central bank data showed.
New Zealand shares eked out modest gains, with the benchmark NZX-50 Index rising 52.01 points, or 0.4 percent, to 12,940.42 in post-Christmas trading.
Financial services provider Heartland Group Holdings surged 4.7 percent and pharmaceutical firm EBOS added 3.5 percent.
Overnight, the Dow edged up 0.3 percent to extend gains for the fifth straight day, while the Nasdaq Composite fell 0.6 percent and the S&P 500 slipped 0.1 percent to snap a four-day winning streak.
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