Asian Shares Mixed In Cautious Trade

Asian stocks ended mixed on Friday, with the spread of the delta variant coronavirus and China’s regulatory curbs keeping underlying sentiment cautious.

The Chinese government has unveiled a five-year and 10-point plan outlining tighter regulation of much of its economy.

China’s Shanghai Composite index dropped 8.44 points, or 0.24 percent, to 3,516.30 as the country expanded its regulation tightening exercise to the real estate sectors and the latest COVID-19 outbreak in the country forced the partial shutdown of Ningbo-Zhoushan port.

Investors also kept their eyes on upcoming industrial output and retail sales figures for July for fresh impulse.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index ended down 126.20 points, or 0.48 percent, at 26,391.62, with tech stocks declining after the Shanghai Stock Exchange said it would remove top chipmaker SMIC from an index of eligible Shanghai stocks under the Shanghai-Hong Kong Stock Connect.

Japanese shares ended slightly lower as chip-related stocks fell on concerns over demand. The Nikkei average slid 37.87 points, or 0.14 percent, to finish at 27,977.15, while the broader Topix index closed 0.15 percent higher at 1,956.39.

Tokyo Electron, Screen Holdings and Advantest lost 2-5 percent in the tech sector after the Philadelphia semiconductor index fell for a sixth straight session on Thursday. Toshiba gave up 4.4 percent despite the company returning to profit and maintaining its annual profit forecast.

Staffing firm Recruit Holdings soared 10 percent on its upbeat outlook. JFE Holdings surged 9.3 percent after the steelmaker nearly doubled its annual net profit forecast.

Australian markets hit a record high, with tech and healthcare stocks pacing the gainers ahead of corporate earnings from heavyweights due next week.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index rose 40.70 points, or 0.54 percent, to 7,628.90 while the broader All Ordinaries index ended up 37.20 points, or 0.47 percent, at 7,897.70. Biotech company CSL rallied 2.4 percent ahead of its earnings due next week, while Cochlear gained 1.5 percent and Resmed added 1 percent amid a resurgent U.S. dollar.

Tech stocks followed U.S. peers higher, with Wisetech Global climbing 3.2 percent. Westpac, which is due to release its Pillar 3 banking report next week, advanced 1.6 percent.

Miners ended broadly lower after iron ore futures skidded overnight on signs of economic slowdown in China.

Seoul stocks extended losses for a seventh straight session as chipmakers continued to come under heavy selling pressure on concerns of a fall in chip prices. The Kospi average tumbled 37.09 points, or 1.16 percent, to 3,171.29. Market bellwether Samsung Electronics fell as much as 3.4 percent.

In economic news, export prices in South Korea jumped 16.9 percent on year in July, the Bank of Korea said earlier today – accelerating from the 13.0 percent increase in June.

New Zealand shares advanced after a survey showed the manufacturing sector in the country expanded at a faster pace in July. The corresponding PMI posted a result over 60.0 for the third time in five months.

The benchmark NZX-50 index climbed 82.25 points, or 0.65 percent, to settle at 12,764.06 ahead of earnings results and the Reserve Bank interest-rate decision next week. Serko and A2 Milk both rose over 2 percent. U.S. stocks ended a lackluster session higher overnight as signs of an uptick in wholesale prices and a drop in jobless claims suggested the economy is well and truly on the recovery track.

The Dow edged up marginally and the S&P 500 gained 0.3 percent to scale new record highs, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite index rose 0.4 percent.

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