Asian markets finished mixed Tuesday. Tokyo extended the previous session's advance, but profit-taking curbed gains there and sent other major indexes lower.
Tokyo's Nikkei 225 Stock Average tracked Wall Street's overnight rise to end up 0.8% at 8395.87. But the index closed well off its intraday high of 8499.60, as buying cues petered out.
Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group led the market in turnover with some 165 million shares changing hands. The bank rose 6.5% after it successfully priced its one-billion-share domestic and international public stock offering after Monday's market close.
Major real-estate firms also ended sharply higher, with Mitsui Fudosan /zigman2/quotes/205394574/delayed JP:8801 -5.08% jumping 9.3%, Mitsubishi Estate /zigman2/quotes/208910776/delayed JP:8802 -2.69% up 8% and Sumitomo Realty & Development /zigman2/quotes/206628792/delayed JP:8830 -4.23% adding 7.3% mainly due to short-covering. The beaten-down sector received a boost from two developments: an NHK report that Japan's land ministry is putting together emergency steps to help support the nation's real-estate companies, and hopes for a government tax cut on housing loans. The Topix's real-estate subindex gained 7.2%, while the TSE's REIT index also soared.
But gains were curbed by Japanese government data showing weaker-than-expected business activity. Japan's GDP decreased by a price-adjusted 0.5% on quarter during the July-September period, or 1.8% in annualized terms, revised Cabinet Office data showed. That marked the second straight quarter of economic contraction, confirming that Japan had entered a recession.
"The data became a trigger for profit-taking after yesterday's sharp rise," said Kenji Shiomura, market analyst at Daiwa Securities.
Sony /zigman2/quotes/201361720/delayed JP:6758 +1.39% 's startling after-hours announcement that it will cut 8,000 jobs and close 10% of its electronics production sites in an effort to save $1 billion per year in costs cast a further shadow over the short-term outlook for stocks. ( See related article.)
In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng Index fell 1.9% to 14753.22 on profit-taking after posting sharp gains in the previous session.
Diminished hopes for more economic stimulus measures from Beijing in the near future also weighed the market. Ben Kwong, chief operating officer at KGI Asia, said it is unrealistic to hope for more market-boosting measures from this week's Central Economic Working Conference, as Beijing recently unveiled a massive rescue proposal and cut interest rates to help boost the economy.
China Mobile /zigman2/quotes/200868736/delayed HK:941 -2.66% , China's biggest telecom operator by subscribers, fell 4.2% following a 7.8% rise Monday. China Life /zigman2/quotes/202359856/delayed HK:2628 -6.70% , the country's biggest life insurer by premiums, fell 2.9% after gaining 10.2% in the previous session. China Overseas Land /zigman2/quotes/205731176/delayed HK:688 -0.98% , the biggest listed Chinese developer in Hong Kong by market capitalization, ended 5% lower after it rose 14.8% Monday. China Construction Bank /zigman2/quotes/208974133/delayed HK:939 -1.84% was down 4.7% following a 10% rise Monday and Industrial & Commercial Bank of China /zigman2/quotes/201401473/delayed HK:1398 -1.96% slid 3.7% after a 7.4% gain.
Hong Kong Exchanges /zigman2/quotes/200234512/delayed HK:388 -1.83% ended 1.4% lower. The stock rose a sharp 16.3% Monday after Hong Kong Financial Secretary John Tsang said the long-delayed program aimed at allowing mainland Chinese residents to directly invest in Hong Kong's stock market, known as the "through train," hasn't been scrapped.
The mainland's benchmark Shanghai Composite Index, which tracks both Class A and Class B shares, ended down 2.5% at 2037.74 in heavy trading. The index had risen 10.6% from Wednesday to Monday.
The market was weighed by comments at a financial forum in Beijing on Tuesday by Zhang Tao, director of the People's Bank of China's Financial Survey and Statistics Department, and PBOC adviser Fan Gang. The officials said China's exports shrank in November, though neither gave a figure or said whether exports fell from the previous month or from the same period a year earlier. Mr. Fan also said the yuan is still in an appreciation phase, despite market concerns that Beijing will use a weaker yuan to help support the country's exporters.
"The remarks from Fan Gang intensified investors' worries over the economy and also went against previous expectations that Beijing will use a weaker yuan to boost exports," said Jacky Zhang, an analyst at Capital Securities.
Export-related firms led Tuesday's declines on profit-taking. Clothing producer Jiangsu Sainty fell 7.3% and Xiamen International Trade Group was down 6.8%.
Food producers also fell after the government said it will begin a four-month food-safety campaign starting Wednesday to prevent harmful substances contaminating food. Sichuan New Hope Agribusiness fell 4.9% and Tsingtao Brewery shed 2.2%.
In Seoul, the Korea Composite Stock Price Index, or Kospi, ended nearly flat – up 0.79 point at 1105.84. Steelmakers extended gains on hopes that massive infrastructure investment to be orchestrated by the global leading economies, such as the U.S. and China, can increase steel demand, analysts said. Posco rose 3.8% and Hyundai Steel climbed 3.1%.
Other China plays also outperformed the broader markets on hopes for additional economic-stimulus plans from Beijing. Hyundai Heavy Industries rose 3.1% and Hanjin Shipping jumped 11.9% partly due to a 1.2% rise in the Baltic Dry Index overnight.
However, ongoing concerns about weakening global demand weighed on technology firms. Hynix Semiconductor fell 5.3%.
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