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March 4, 2010, 5:04 a.m. EST

Asian markets retreat, Shanghai drops 2.4%

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By V. Phani Kumar, Colin Ng and Kirsty Green

HONG KONG (MarketWatch) -- Asian shares ended mostly lower Thursday, with Chinese banking and property shares losing ground a day before the mainland's annual National People's Congress amid concerns about policy tightening.

Hong Kong stocks were led down as heavyweight stock China Mobile extended losses after the telecommunications giant said it was in talks to buy a stake in Shanghai Pudong Development Bank Co. Japanese stocks declined as a stronger yen hurt exporters, with Mitsubishi Motors plunging after it scrapped talks with PSA Peugeot-Citroen for a capital-alliance.

Japan's Nikkei 225 finished down 1.1%, South Korea's Kospi slipped 0.3%, Australia's S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.3%, Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index dropped 1.4%, China's Shanghai Composite fell 2.4% and Taiwan's Taiex declined 0.8%.

Dow Jones Industrial Average futures fell 30 points lower in screen trade.

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Traders said investors were also cautious ahead of the European Central Bank's interest rates decision later Thursday and U.S. jobs data Friday, while recent developments around debt-strapped Greece were also being watched closely.

"Europe is center stage. There's a sense that there could be another potential shoe to drop (following on from Greece's problems), so people are going to tread carefully," said UOB KayHian research head Andrew Chow.

Moreover, "the U.S. jobs data on Friday may be a wild card in the deck," said Brown Brothers Harriman in a note to clients. "It is a difficult number to forecast even in the best of times and weather appears to have played havoc with a number of recent economic reports."

In afternoon trading, India's Sensex fell 0.2% and Singapore's Straits Times slid 0.6%.

Chinese banking and property shares fell sharply ahead of the upcoming annual meeting of China's top advisory body the CPPCC and the National People's Congress. Taifook Securities said that the two meetings "will be of particular importance" this year as the 12th Five-Year Plan will be drafted.

Industrial & Commercial Bank of China /zigman2/quotes/202525815/delayed CN:601398 -0.61% lost 1.8% and China Merchants Bank Co. /zigman2/quotes/210188047/delayed CN:600036 -2.52% gave up 2.2% in Shanghai amid concerns about monetary tightening. China Vanke Co. /zigman2/quotes/205643772/delayed CN:000002 -0.39% lost 2% in Shenzhen, on expectations policymakers may act to cool property prices in some cities.

"A key watch point is whether there will be any mention of property tax... High property prices stood out as the issue that delegates are most worried about, and the government is under huge pressure to address this," said analysts at Credit Suisse. But the analysts also expect some positive news out of the meetings, saying the government may turn its attention from infrastructure development to boosting domestic consumption, and could focus on raising the exemption level on salary taxes.

In Hong Kong, China Mobile /zigman2/quotes/204514293/composite CHL -0.52% /zigman2/quotes/200868736/delayed HK:941 -2.20% dropped 2.4%, extending losses to a third straight session on the company's plan to buy a stake in Shanghai Pudong Development Bank /zigman2/quotes/204296742/delayed CN:600000 -0.32% . Locally traded shares of Chinese banks added to the selling pressure, with China Construction Bank Corp. /zigman2/quotes/208974133/delayed HK:939 -1.18% /zigman2/quotes/207732534/composite CICHY +1.20% dropping 2.9% and ICBC /zigman2/quotes/201401473/delayed HK:1398 -1.48% shedding 2.5%.

In Tokyo, investors weren't keen to take on large positions before Friday's U.S. non-farm payrolls data, said traders. "What investors are watching the most [for] is whether the yen will weaken or rise against the dollar," said Yukio Takahashi, market analyst at Mizuho Securities.

Mitsubishi Motors /zigman2/quotes/202404490/delayed JP:7211 +2.12% /zigman2/quotes/200876874/composite MMTOF -5.36% tumbled 10.6% on news the auto maker couldn't reach an agreement with PSA Peugeot-Citroen for a capital-alliance. Sony /zigman2/quotes/201361720/delayed JP:6758 +0.56% /zigman2/quotes/208567357/composite SNE +0.03% dropped 1.1% and Canon /zigman2/quotes/207639533/delayed JP:7751 -1.35% /zigman2/quotes/210242912/composite CAJ +4.80% lost 0.8%, with both reversing early gains.

CUR_EURYEN

Some shipping companies advanced after a rise in the Baltic Dry Index, with Nippon Yusen /zigman2/quotes/208117193/composite NPNYY +3.76% /zigman2/quotes/203488100/delayed JP:9101 +2.30% gaining 0.6% and Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha /zigman2/quotes/201857679/delayed JP:9107 -0.56% rising 1.9%.

Elpida Memory climbed 1.4% on news it has reached an agreement to acquire flash memory research-and-development operations from U.S. chipmaker Spansion, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last year.

Australian miners helped support the Sydney market after commodity prices gained ground Wednesday. BHP /zigman2/quotes/208108397/composite BHP +0.67% /zigman2/quotes/201448516/delayed AU:BHP -0.65% rose 1.5%, Rio /zigman2/quotes/200083756/delayed AU:RIO -0.76% added 0.7% and Fortescue Metals Group /zigman2/quotes/202351558/delayed AU:FMG +1.89% advanced 0.6%. See related story.

However, banks retreated after their recent run on the back of good results from Westpac Banking Corp. /zigman2/quotes/203084975/delayed AU:WBC -1.27% /zigman2/quotes/206661702/composite WBK +0.08% and Australia & New Zealand Banking Group /zigman2/quotes/205482049/delayed AU:ANZ -0.68% /zigman2/quotes/203732563/composite ANZBY 0.00% . ANZ slid 0.9% and Westpac slipped 0.2%, with Commonwealth Bank of Australia /zigman2/quotes/200638713/delayed AU:CBA -0.72% /zigman2/quotes/207018701/composite CBAUF -0.24% dropping 0.3%.

The Taiwanese market fell after an earthquake that shook Taipei earlier in the day, but losses were contained. "The earthquake is unlikely to affect investor sentiment today, as it doesn't seem to have a big impact on companies' operations so far," said Randy Chang, trader at KGI Securities.

Liquid crystal display maker Chi Mei Optoelectronics /zigman2/quotes/209320667/composite CMOPF +26.71% fell 0.9% after it halted factory operations to evaluate condition of plants and offices after the earthquake.

Elsewhere, New Zealand's NZX 50 ended up 0.5% and Philippine shares ended 1.2% lower. In afternoon trade, Indonesian shares gave up 0.1% and Thailand's SET Index shrank 0.3%.

In foreign exchange markets, the euro was buying $1.3649, compared with $1.3703 in late New York trade Wednesday, and 120.62 yen, versus 121.17 yen. The dollar dropped to 88.34 yen from 88.43 yen.

Japanese government bonds were higher, as "investors are reluctant to move ahead of key events tomorrow, such as the U.S. employment report for February and the National People's Congress in China," said Mitsubishi UFJ Securities strategist Katsutoshi Inadome. Lead March JGB futures rose 0.23 to 140.01 points, while the 10-year cash yield was unchanged at 1.330%.

/zigman2/quotes/202525815/delayed
CN : China: Shanghai
¥ 4.91
-0.03 -0.61%
Volume: 115.61M
Sept. 29, 2020 3:00p
P/E Ratio
5.56
Dividend Yield
5.35%
Market Cap
¥1623.12 billion
Rev. per Employee
¥2.53M
loading...
/zigman2/quotes/210188047/delayed
CN : China: Shanghai
¥ 36.31
-0.94 -2.52%
Volume: 79.67M
Sept. 29, 2020 3:00p
P/E Ratio
9.86
Dividend Yield
3.30%
Market Cap
¥918.87 billion
Rev. per Employee
¥3.10M
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/zigman2/quotes/205643772/delayed
CN : China: Shenzhen
¥ 28.29
-0.11 -0.39%
Volume: 41.30M
Sept. 29, 2020 3:00p
P/E Ratio
8.09
Dividend Yield
3.59%
Market Cap
¥306.90 billion
Rev. per Employee
¥3.83M
loading...
/zigman2/quotes/204514293/composite
US : U.S.: NYSE
$ 32.54
-0.17 -0.52%
Volume: 998,667
Sept. 28, 2020 4:00p
P/E Ratio
8.86
Dividend Yield
5.81%
Market Cap
$133.02 billion
Rev. per Employee
$239,645
loading...
/zigman2/quotes/200868736/delayed
HK : Hong Kong
HK$ 48.95
-1.10 -2.20%
Volume: 21.99M
Sept. 29, 2020 4:08p
P/E Ratio
8.55
Dividend Yield
6.65%
Market Cap
HK$1030.94 billion
Rev. per Employee
HK$1.88M
loading...
/zigman2/quotes/204296742/delayed
CN : China: Shanghai
¥ 9.43
-0.03 -0.32%
Volume: 32.99M
Sept. 29, 2020 3:00p
P/E Ratio
5.53
Dividend Yield
6.36%
Market Cap
¥277.96 billion
Rev. per Employee
¥5.94M
loading...
/zigman2/quotes/208974133/delayed
HK : Hong Kong
HK$ 5.01
-0.06 -1.18%
Volume: 250.17M
Sept. 29, 2020 4:08p
P/E Ratio
4.51
Dividend Yield
6.98%
Market Cap
HK$1273.84 billion
Rev. per Employee
HK$3.31M
loading...
/zigman2/quotes/207732534/composite
US : U.S.: OTC
$ 13.08
+0.16 +1.20%
Volume: 140,741
Sept. 28, 2020 3:53p
P/E Ratio
4.20
Dividend Yield
5.83%
Market Cap
$164.37 billion
Rev. per Employee
$422,749
loading...
/zigman2/quotes/201401473/delayed
HK : Hong Kong
HK$ 3.99
-0.06 -1.48%
Volume: 221.94M
Sept. 29, 2020 4:08p
P/E Ratio
4.37
Dividend Yield
7.20%
Market Cap
HK$1844.66 billion
Rev. per Employee
HK$3.03M
loading...
/zigman2/quotes/202404490/delayed
JP : Japan: Tokyo
¥ 241.00
+5.00 +2.12%
Volume: 8.71M
Sept. 29, 2020 3:00p
P/E Ratio
N/A
Dividend Yield
0.00%
Market Cap
¥334.88 billion
Rev. per Employee
¥80.91M
loading...
/zigman2/quotes/200876874/composite
US : U.S.: OTC
$ 2.12
-0.12 -5.36%
Volume: 37.00
Sept. 28, 2020 5:20p
P/E Ratio
N/A
Dividend Yield
N/A
Market Cap
$3.17 billion
Rev. per Employee
$733,027
loading...
/zigman2/quotes/201361720/delayed
JP : Japan: Tokyo
¥ 8,200.00
+46.00 +0.56%
Volume: 4.76M
Sept. 29, 2020 3:00p
P/E Ratio
15.51
Dividend Yield
0.61%
Market Cap
¥9893.59 billion
Rev. per Employee
¥72.37M
loading...
/zigman2/quotes/208567357/composite
US : U.S.: NYSE
$ 77.28
+0.02 +0.03%
Volume: 790,218
Sept. 28, 2020 4:00p
P/E Ratio
15.78
Dividend Yield
0.39%
Market Cap
$93.65 billion
Rev. per Employee
$654,652
loading...
/zigman2/quotes/207639533/delayed
JP : Japan: Tokyo
¥ 1,757.50
-24.00 -1.35%
Volume: 4.73M
Sept. 29, 2020 3:00p
P/E Ratio
25.88
Dividend Yield
4.55%
Market Cap
¥1783.05 billion
Rev. per Employee
¥19.98M
loading...
/zigman2/quotes/210242912/composite
US : U.S.: NYSE
$ 17.03
+0.78 +4.80%
Volume: 768,483
Sept. 28, 2020 4:00p
P/E Ratio
27.19
Dividend Yield
5.53%
Market Cap
$16.88 billion
Rev. per Employee
$180,925
loading...
/zigman2/quotes/208117193/composite
US : U.S.: OTC
$ 3.61
+0.13 +3.76%
Volume: 1,583
Sept. 28, 2020 11:20a
P/E Ratio
9.80
Dividend Yield
1.55%
Market Cap
$3.01 billion
Rev. per Employee
$464,396
loading...
/zigman2/quotes/203488100/delayed
JP : Japan: Tokyo
¥ 1,865.00
+42.00 +2.30%
Volume: 1.53M
Sept. 29, 2020 3:00p
P/E Ratio
9.35
Dividend Yield
2.14%
Market Cap
¥318.45 billion
Rev. per Employee
¥51.22M
loading...
/zigman2/quotes/201857679/delayed
JP : Japan: Tokyo
¥ 1,234.00
-7.00 -0.56%
Volume: 889,500
Sept. 29, 2020 3:00p
P/E Ratio
N/A
Dividend Yield
N/A
Market Cap
¥117.52 billion
Rev. per Employee
¥128.12M
loading...
/zigman2/quotes/208108397/composite
US : U.S.: NYSE
$ 52.74
+0.35 +0.67%
Volume: 2.07M
Sept. 28, 2020 4:00p
P/E Ratio
16.81
Dividend Yield
4.55%
Market Cap
$123.40 billion
Rev. per Employee
N/A
loading...
/zigman2/quotes/201448516/delayed
AU : Australia: Sydney
$ 36.89
-0.24 -0.65%
Volume: 4.31M
Sept. 29, 2020 4:10p
P/E Ratio
15.83
Dividend Yield
4.74%
Market Cap
$175.87 billion
Rev. per Employee
N/A
loading...
/zigman2/quotes/200083756/delayed
AU : Australia: Sydney
$ 95.82
-0.73 -0.76%
Volume: 1.18M
Sept. 29, 2020 4:10p
P/E Ratio
14.60
Dividend Yield
5.91%
Market Cap
$143.06 billion
Rev. per Employee
$1.14M
loading...
/zigman2/quotes/202351558/delayed
AU : Australia: Sydney
$ 16.16
+0.30 +1.89%
Volume: 11.48M
Sept. 29, 2020 4:10p
P/E Ratio
7.07
Dividend Yield
10.89%
Market Cap
$48.97 billion
Rev. per Employee
N/A
loading...
/zigman2/quotes/203084975/delayed
AU : Australia: Sydney
$ 17.16
-0.22 -1.27%
Volume: 9.23M
Sept. 29, 2020 4:10p
P/E Ratio
12.89
Dividend Yield
4.66%
Market Cap
$63.39 billion
Rev. per Employee
$1.09M
loading...
/zigman2/quotes/206661702/composite
US : U.S.: NYSE
$ 12.30
+0.01 +0.08%
Volume: 297,044
Sept. 28, 2020 4:00p
P/E Ratio
13.46
Dividend Yield
9.70%
Market Cap
$44.48 billion
Rev. per Employee
$830,218
loading...
/zigman2/quotes/205482049/delayed
AU : Australia: Sydney
$ 17.58
-0.12 -0.68%
Volume: 4.46M
Sept. 29, 2020 4:10p
P/E Ratio
12.02
Dividend Yield
7.95%
Market Cap
$50.76 billion
Rev. per Employee
$908,476
loading...
/zigman2/quotes/203732563/composite
US : U.S.: OTC
$ 12.68
0.00 0.00%
Volume: 62,433
Sept. 28, 2020 3:51p
P/E Ratio
12.67
Dividend Yield
5.59%
Market Cap
$35.62 billion
Rev. per Employee
$690,358
loading...
/zigman2/quotes/200638713/delayed
AU : Australia: Sydney
$ 65.02
-0.47 -0.72%
Volume: 1.98M
Sept. 29, 2020 4:10p
P/E Ratio
12.41
Dividend Yield
4.58%
Market Cap
$116.93 billion
Rev. per Employee
$919,022
loading...
/zigman2/quotes/207018701/composite
US : U.S.: OTC
$ 48.78
-0.12 -0.24%
Volume: 0.00
Sept. 24, 2020 5:20p
P/E Ratio
13.81
Dividend Yield
N/A
Market Cap
$85.88 billion
Rev. per Employee
$687,071
loading...
/zigman2/quotes/209320667/composite
US : U.S.: OTC
$ 97.25
+20.50 +26.71%
Volume: 0.00
Aug. 10, 2020 1:21p
P/E Ratio
N/A
Dividend Yield
N/A
Market Cap
$1.42 billion
Rev. per Employee
$285,669
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Varahabhotla Phani Kumar is a reporter in MarketWatch's Hong Kong bureau.

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