Asian Shares Mixed In Cautious Trade

Asian stocks ended mixed on Wednesday as investors digested corporate earnings and U.S. President Donald Trump’s abrupt dismissal of FBI Director James Comey. Tensions surrounding North Korea also kept underlying sentiment cautious.

China’s Shanghai Composite index dropped 27.74 points or 0.90 percent to 3,052.78 after inflation data painted a mixed picture of the economy.

China’s inflation accelerated to a 3-month high in April, while factory gate inflation eased on weakening commodity prices, data published by the National Bureau of Statistics showed today. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index was up 126 points or 0.51 percent at 25,015 in late trade.

Japanese shares posted modest gains to close at a 17-month high, shrugging off concerns surrounding regional security and political developments in the U.S. The yen weakened against the dollar, helping lift exporters’ shares.

The benchmark Nikkei average rose 57.09 points or 0.29 percent to 19,900.09 while the broader Topix index closed up 0.22 percent at 1,585.19. Mitsubishi Motors soared over 9 percent after it forecast higher financial results in fiscal 2017.

Australian shares ended higher as an uptick in oil, metals and gold prices lifted commodity-related stocks. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 rose 35.50 points or 0.61 percent to 5,875.40, while the broader All Ordinaries index closed 36.60 points or 0.62 percent higher at 5,911.10.

Mining giants BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto rose about 2 percent while smaller rival Fortescue Metals Group jumped as much as 5 percent. Energy majors Woodside Petroleum and Origin Energy gained about 1 percent each. Gold Miners Newcrest and Northern Star rallied 2-4 percent as gold prices rebounded from eight-week lows.

Banks ended mostly lower as investors pondered the $6bn tax hike unveiled in the budget. CSR plunged nearly 12 percent after its full-year earnings failed to meet investor expectations.

Seoul shares fell on fresh concerns over North Korea’s nuclear program after Britain’s Sky News quoted North Korea’s ambassador to the Britain, Choe Il, as saying that his country is “not afraid” to continue testing nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles in spite of international warnings against them.

Meanwhile, liberal politician Moon Jae In has won the country’s presidential election after nine years of conservative rule. The benchmark Kospi average fell 22.64 points or 0.99 percent to 2,270.12 after rallying more than 7 percent in the past ten sessions.

New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 12.08 points or 0.16 percent to 7,424.20 as investors awaited the Reserve Bank’s monetary policy decision on May 11. Heartland Bank shares rallied 3.4 percent after the levy on Australia’s biggest banks.

Elsewhere, India’s Sensex was rising 0.9 percent, while Indonesia’s Jakarta Composite index was down 0.8 percent. Markets in Malaysia and Singapore were closed in observance of Vesak Day, while Thailand remained shut for Wisakha Bucha Day.

Overnight, U.S. stocks ended mixed amid…

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