Asian markets ended mixed Monday. Japan rose on strength in exporters, but Shanghai and Seoul fell on profit-taking while banks dragged Hong Kong lower.
Tokyo's Nikkei 225 Stock Average rose 1.6% to 8723.78. The Topix index of all the Tokyo Stock Exchange First Section issues rose 14.29 points, or 1.7%, to 848.72. But turnover was relatively low, with just over 1.5 billion shares changing hands.
The Bank of Japan's interest-rate cut Friday to 0.1% and new measures to aid corporate fundraising gave financial issues a boost. Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Groupgained 2.9%, Mizuho Financial Group /zigman2/quotes/204507985/delayed JP:8411 -0.21% added 4%, Nomura Holdings /zigman2/quotes/206251373/delayed JP:8604 -1.67% advanced 7.6% and Sompo Japanjumped 9.2%.
Exporters rose, with TDK /zigman2/quotes/208948266/delayed JP:6762 +0.26% up 5.3% while Tokyo Electron /zigman2/quotes/202883609/delayed JP:8035 +0.32% gained 5.3%. Honda Motor /zigman2/quotes/200490352/delayed JP:7267 +0.89% added 5.4% while Nissan Motor /zigman2/quotes/208298710/delayed JP:7201 +1.32% picked up 2.7%.
Toyota Motor /zigman2/quotes/203803129/delayed JP:7203 +0.24% , however, fell 0.17% as investors braced for bad news at the company's year-end press conference in the afternoon. Their concerns were confirmed after market close, when Toyota slashed its profit forecast for the fiscal year. ( See related article.)
In Hong Kong, financials dragged the Hang Seng Index 3.3% lower to end at 14622.39. Banking giant HSBC /zigman2/quotes/202687335/delayed HK:5 +0.16% fell for the third straight session, dropping 3.3% on expectations it will have to cut dividends and raise between $15 billion and $25 billion because of the global crisis, analysts said. The index heavyweight, with a 16.3% weighting, contributed 64 points of the index's 505-point decline.
Chinese banks mostly fell on a grim outlook, especially in the near term, as the global crisis has tightened liquidity and driven up the cost of lending. Bank of China /zigman2/quotes/204682472/delayed HK:3988 +0.40% dropped 2.2%, Bank of Communications /zigman2/quotes/203442771/delayed HK:3328 0.00% was 3.4% lower and ICBC /zigman2/quotes/201401473/delayed HK:1398 +0.24% fell 1.8%.
Bucking the trend, magnesium producer CVM Mineralsrose as much as 25% on its market debut. It closed 20% higher on the scarce supply of 10 million shares for retail investors, analysts said.
The mainland's benchmark Shanghai Composite Index, which tracks both Class A and Class B shares, ended down 1.5% at 1987.76 as hopes waned for more economic stimulus measures.
"Beijing's failure to release long-anticipated measures over the weekend triggered profit-taking in blue chips, which have risen sharply in the past week," said Jacky Zhang, an analyst at Capital International.
Concerns over the slowdown in China's economy and the impact on corporate earnings continued to weigh on local shares, though analysts said further downside may be limited by shrinking turnover.
Financial firms led the Monday's declines. Ping An Insurance fell 5.3% and Citic Securities shed 3%. China Vanke, the country's largest property developer by market value, dropped 4.9% while Poly Real Estate fell 5.6%.
Seoul's Korea Composite Stock Price Index, or Kospi, erased early gains to end down 0.1% at 1179.61.
"There's [selling] pressure after last week's gains and the U.S. stock markets ended mixed despite the bailout of the U.S. car makers," said Kim Joong-hyun, an analyst at Goodmorning Shinhan Securities.
After opening up, shares of most banks and construction firms closed lower. There was disappointment with the additional deregulation measures unveiled Monday to support the ailing domestic property sector, analysts said. Shinhan Financial Group closed down 0.9% and Hyundai Engineering & Construction declined 1.8%. But KB Financial Group ended 2.1% higher on Friday's news that its banking unit, Kookmin Bank, will acquire stakes in Posco and Hyundai Merchant Marine.
Most chip makers lost ground on profit-taking. Samsung Electronics fell 0.7% and Hynix Semiconductor declined 3.6%.
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