Asian markets ended mixed Thursday. Financial stocks recouped some recent losses in Tokyo and Hong Kong, but Shanghai fell on profit-taking.
Shares fell in early trading after losses in the U.S. share markets spooked investors. Worries about the financial sector and high crude-oil prices drove the Dow Jones Industrial Average down 2.1% late Wednesday. However, several exchanges turned higher late Thursday on a round of cautious buying.
In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 Stock Average erased an initial fall to finish 0.1% higher at 13067.21. Real-estate shares gained with Mitsubishi Estate /zigman2/quotes/208910776/delayed JP:8802 +0.43% rising 3.5%. Bank shares also advanced, with Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group adding 3.5% while Mizuho Financial Group /zigman2/quotes/204507985/delayed JP:8411 -0.21% advanced 2.7%. However, technology stocks tracked weakness in the U.S. tech sector. Canon /zigman2/quotes/207639533/delayed JP:7751 -0.69% lost 1.5% and Tokyo Electron /zigman2/quotes/207300291/delayed JP:8935 +1.81% fell 1.7%.
Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index reversed morning losses to end slightly higher. The blue-chip index rose 0.07% to 21821.78.
Chinese banks rose for the second consecutive day on strong earnings guidance. Industrial & Commercial Bank of China /zigman2/quotes/201401473/delayed HK:1398 +0.24% rose 1.1% and China Construction Bank /zigman2/quotes/208974133/delayed HK:939 +0.38% gained 2.6%. Bank of China /zigman2/quotes/201401473/delayed HK:1398 +0.24% ended 1.2% higher while Bank of Communications /zigman2/quotes/203442771/delayed HK:3328 0.00% rose 1.7%.
Among the decliners, heavyweight China Mobile /zigman2/quotes/200868736/delayed HK:941 +0.10% dropped 1.7% on profit-taking after rising 1.5% Wednesday. Handset contract maker Foxconn International /zigman2/quotes/205017351/delayed HK:2038 +6.00% fell 5.2% after Lehman Brothers trimmed its price target.
Meanwhile, the mainland's Shanghai Composite Index, which tracks both Class A and Class B shares, ended down 1.5% at 2875.45 on profit-taking following three days of gains due to a correction in the heavyweight banking sector.
Financials led the market's decline, even after the medium-sized Industrial Bank joined its larger rivals in projecting strong first-half earnings. Industrial Bank lost 2.3%, ICBC dropped 0.8% and Bank of China fell 1.6%. Analysts said the rosy forecasts by banks were overshadowed by concerns over slowing profit growth in the second half following a series of tightening measures in the past two years.
Airlines fell on profit-taking. Air China dropped 4.1%, China Southern Airlines fell 3.8% and China Eastern Airlines tumbled 3.8%.
In Seoul, the Korea Composite Stock Price Index, or Kospi, picked up 1.2% to end at 1537.43 after posting declines earlier.
Attention was again on the Korean won after heavy central bank intervention so far this week to support the currency. The U.S. dollar was near 999 won versus 1004.90 won Wednesday. Earlier, the central bank in Korea stood pat on interest rates, as most expected.
Investors bought financial, steel making and transportation stocks. Kookmin Bank gained 3% while Samsung Securities rose 5.8%. Steelmaker Posco gained 3% and Hyundai Steel jumped 6.4%.
And Australia's S&P/ASX 200 ended down 1.5% at 4937.40. Bank stocks came off their lows but still posted losses, with National Australia Bank falling 2.7%.
In the currency market, the U.S. dollar rose modestly against the yen. The dollar was at ¥106.93 compared with ¥106.82 late in the New York session.
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