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[August 25, 2014]
Asian Stocks Mixed After Yellen's Speech
(dpa-AFX International Compact Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) CANBERA (dpa-AFX) - Asian stocks ended mixed on Monday as investors digested speeches by Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen and ECB President Mario Draghi at the Jackson Hole Symposium. While Yellen delivered a balanced speech regarding the U.S. labor market and monetary policy, ECB chief Draghi insisted that stimulus measures announced in June would help get the eurozone economy back on its feet. He stressed that the central bank will do more as officials struggle with stagnating growth and alarmingly low inflation.
Investors continued to monitor developments in Ukraine after Russia said on Saturday that the aid convoy to Ukraine has returned to its territory after a successful completion of its humanitarian mission, having off-loaded goods at the desired destination. Russian President Vladimir Putin will meet his Ukrainian counterpart in Minsk Tuesday, along with European leaders, in their first encounter since June.
Chinese shares fell the most in a week, as banks dropped on concerns that new lending isn't picking up amid weakening growth. The benchmark Shanghai Composite index fell 0.51 percent to 2,229.27, its biggest single-day loss since August 14. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index, meanwhile, rose 0.22 percent to 25,166.91, its highest level since May 2008.
Japanese shares rose to a 3-1/2-week high in thin trading, with exporter shares pacing the gainers as the yen hit multi-month lows versus the dollar following comments Friday by Fed Chair Yellen, ECB President Mario Draghi and Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda. Kuroda said that Japan has committed to continuing the increasingly accommodative stance until the 2 per cent inflation target is met and maintained in a sustainable manner.
The benchmark Nikkei average rose 0.48 percent to finish at 15,613.25, its highest level since July 31, while the broader Topix index advanced 0.4 percent. Among top gainers, Dainippon Screen Manufacturing, Mitsumi Electric, Casio Computer and Fujifilm Holdings rose 2-4 percent. Sony Corp gained 0.9 percent. The company's PlayStation Network was back online on Monday after a cyber-attack over the weekend.
Chugai Pharmaceutical Co. shares slumped 9.2 percent after Roche Holding AG said it had decided against bidding for the remaining stake in the Japanese drugmaker.
Australian shares declined from six-year highs, dragged down by miners as iron ore prices fell further to a two-month low Friday on concerns about China's growth. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index dropped 0.2 percent to finish at 5,634.9, snapping a seven-session winning streak. Newcrest, Rio Tinto, BHP Billiton and Fortescue Metals Group shed between 1 percent and 1.8 percent. Steel maker BlueScope plummeted 12.8 percent as it reported a worse-than-expected full year loss.
The big four banks fell across the board, losing between 0.1 percent and 0.8 percent. Caltex Australia shares soared 7.4 percent. The company announced plans to cut 350 jobs after reporting a small increase in first-half profit. Oil Search rose half a percent, Santos edged up 0.2 percent, Woodside Petroleum added 0.2 percent and Origin Energy rallied 3.3 percent.
Seoul shares rose slightly on institutional buying as foreign investors took a cautious stance following the annual meeting of top central bankers in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Friday. The benchmark Kospi average closed up 0.2 percent at 2,060.89 after keeping flat for most of the session. Heavyweight Samsung Electronics, which is facing intensifying competition from low-cost Chinese rivals, dropped 1.5 percent.
Automaker Hyundai Motor inched up 0.2 percent as the South Korean won drifted lower against the dollar on uncertainty over the timing of the first interest rate increase in the U.S. Hyundai Hysco tumbled 3.9 percent after the U.S. International Trade Commission voted to impose anti-dumping duties against steel pipe imports from South Korea and five other countries.
New Zealand shares rose modestly as positive earnings results bolstered investors' risk appetite. The benchmark NZX-50 index gained 0.3 percent to finish at 5182.74. Xero jumped 5.3 percent after recent losses, biotech firm Pacific Edge rallied 4.1 percent and retirement village operator Metlifecare advanced 3.5 percent after increasing its underlying full-year earnings. Outdoor goods retailer Kathmandu Holdings plunged 5 percent after its chief executive Peter Halkett said he will leave the company in late November, having led the company for eight years.
The NZ dollar weakened against other major currencies amid speculation that the Reserve Bank of New Zealand could have intervened in the currency markets this morning. Speculation was rife that the central bank was taking advantage of thin liquidity on Monday morning after a meeting of central bankers at Jackson Hole over the weekend.
Elsewhere, India's Sensex was moving up 0.7 percent, Singapore's Straits Times index was up 0.3 percent and the Taiwan Weighted average edged up 0.1 percent, while Indonesia's Jakarta Composite index was down 0.2 percent and Malaysia's KLSE Composite was losing half a percent.
On Wall Street, stocks ended narrowly mixed showing little change on Friday, as investors weighed remarks by central bankers at a high-profile gathering and remained wary of Ukraine tensions.
Copyright RTT News/dpa-AFX
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