Asian Shares Mixed In Cautious Trade

Asian stocks turned in a mixed performance on Friday, with renewed worries over the coronavirus pandemic and reports suggesting that U.S. President Joe Biden planned to raise capital gains tax for wealthy individuals denting sentiment.

Chinese shares advanced as President Xi Jinping’s renewed green pledge bolstered clean energy stocks. The benchmark Shanghai Composite index rose 9.05 points, or 0.26 percent, to 3,474.17, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index ended up 323.41 points, or 1.12 percent, at 29,078.75.

Japanese shares fell as a disappointing forecast from Nidec coupled with news that the government will declare “short and powerful” states of emergency for Tokyo, Osaka and two other prefectures added to the pessimistic mood at the start of the earnings season.

The Nikkei average dropped 167.54 points, or 0.57 percent, to 29,020.63, while the broader Topix index closed 0.39 percent lower at 1,914.98.

Tech firms such as Advantest, Tokyo Electron, Screen Holdings and Fanuc lost 1-3 percent. Nidec Corp. plunged 5.1 percent after its profit forecast for this fiscal year missed estimates.

The manufacturing sector in Japan expanded at a faster pace, a flash estimate from Jibun bank revealed today with a manufacturing PMI score of 59.6, up from 53.3 in March. Separately, a government report showed that consumer prices in Japan were down 0.2 percent year-on-year in March.

Australian markets ended on a flat note despite positive data on the country’s manufacturing sector. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index finished marginally higher at 7,060.70 while the broader All Ordinaries index ended 0.12 percent higher at 7,320.70.

The manufacturing sector in Australia continued to expand in April, and at a faster pace, a flash estimate from Markit Economics revealed with a survey record manufacturing PMI score of 59.6, up from 56.8 in March.

Miners ended mixed after iron ore prices fell on Thursday amid fresh tensions between Australia and China. In the energy sector, Santos and Origin Energy rose 1-2 percent. Banks ANZ, Commonwealth and NAB rose less than half a percent. Troubled wealth manager AMP gained 0.9 percent after announcing a demerger plan.

Kogan.com shares plunged 14.3 percent after the e-commerce firm reported a 24 percent decline in adjusted earnings.

Seoul stocks edged higher despite spikes in domestic coronavirus cases and concerns surrounding capital tax increases in the United States. The benchmark Kospi inched up 8.58 points, or 0.27 percent, to 3,186.10. Shares in steel, chemical and financial sectors led the gainers on optimism for a global economic rebound.

New Zealand shares swung between gains and losses before finishing firmly in positive territory. The benchmark NZX-50 index closed up 73.16 points, or 0.58 percent, at 12,650.64. Utilities outperformed, with Mercury NZ surging 4 percent and Meridian Energy climbing 3.6 percent.

U.S. stocks fell notably overnight after reports emerged that the Biden administration plans to nearly double the capital gains tax rate for wealthy individuals to fund spending on child care and education.

The Dow, the S&P 500 and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite all fell around 0.9 percent ahead of big tech earnings next week.

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