• Asian markets defy negative Wall St lead

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    HONG KONG: Major Asian markets mostly shrugged off a negative lead from Wall Street on Thursday, with Shanghai performing especially strongly and Japan Post shares soaring again in Tokyo.

    The benchmark Shanghai Composite index closed at a 10-week high, extending gains from the previous day when the market rallied more than four percent on hopes for economic reforms.

    The benchmark Nikkei 225 index at the Tokyo Stock Exchange closed 1.00 percent up, while the Hang Seng Index in Hong Kong was flat at the finish.

    China’s ruling Communist Party issued guidelines for its 2016-2020 development plan on Tuesday, including calling for liberalization in its capital markets and foreign exchange regime, following a high-level meeting last week.

    “The government has successfully clamped down on short selling,” said Francis Cheung, a senior strategist at brokerage CLSA in Hong Kong, told Bloomberg News.

    “So it is easier for [the]market to go up, especially with anticipation that China will cut rates and do more stimulus.”

    Wall Street had dropped Wednesday after Federal Reserve chief Janet Yellen kept the possibility of an increase to US interest rates in December on the table.

    The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.28 percent, while the S&P 500 lost 0.35 percent and the Nasdaq edged down 0.05 percent.

    In Tokyo, Japan Post stocks skyrocketed for a second day, as investors scrambled to get their hands on one of Japan’s best-known companies, with its insurance unit especially in demand.

    Toyota said Thursday its half-year net profit jumped 12 percent as it moves to cut costs and raise productivity, but troubled conglomerate Toshiba was expected to announce a huge operating loss for the six months to September.

    ‘Killing people and lying’

    Crisis-hit airbag supplier Takata continued its downward spiral in Tokyo, with its share price plummeting 25 percent to 889 yen ($7.32) at the close to a fresh low for this year.

    “There’s very little chance for Takata to survive,” Amir Anvarzadeh, Singapore-based global head of Japan equity sales at BGC Capital Partners, told Bloomberg.

    “It’s a safety equipment maker killing people and lying about their issue.”

    Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index closed down 0.94 percent, dragged down by banking and mining stocks, while Seoul’s benchmark KOSPI index declined 0.16 percent on concerns of the possible Fed rate hike.

    The US dollar continued to strengthen Thursday after Yellen’s comments that if the economy was “performing well” and, if conditions warrant, a rate hike in December “would be a live possibility.”

    After days of gains for emerging market currencies, the Malaysian ringgit, Chinese yuan, Thai baht, South Korean won and Indonesian rupiah were all down against the greenback.

    The yen changed hands at 121.64 to the dollar around 0825 GMT, slightly down from 121.55 in late US trade.

    The euro rose slightly against the US currency, fetching 1.0878 from 1.0865, and was at 132.33 yen from 132.06 yen.

    In oil markets, US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for delivery in December was trading 12 cents higher at $46.44 and Brent crude for December was up 25 cents at $48.83 a barrel.

    AFP

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