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Nikkei jumps at open, Kospi up as ASX slides

Asian shares opened higher on Wednesday, with Japan’s Nikkei 225 leading gains even as investors remain cautious over the latest global geopolitical developments in the wake of the Paris terror attacks.

Local stocks got a lackluster lead from US markets. Wall Street’s Monday rally was short-lived, with the major averages giving up intraday gains that briefly took the S&P 500 into positive territory for the year and pushed the Dow Jones industrial average up more than 100 points on the back of solid earnings reports from Home Depot and Wal-Mart.

The DJIA closed up 0.04 percent at 17,489.5 points, the S&P 500 down 0.13 percent at 2,050.44 and the Nasdaq up 0.03 percent at 4,986.02.

Nikkei opens in positive territory

Japan’s Nikkei 225 opened nearly 1 percent higher on Wednesday, as investors keep an eye on the Bank of Japan’s two-day meeting, which kicks off later in the day.

The Japanese yen made marginal gains against the dollar, fetching 123.25.

Shares of Softbank were up 1.14 percent after the bank announced plans to issue 370 billion yen (USD 2.97 billion) in straight bonds for retail investors in December.

Japanese car makers were also seeing gains in early trade as shares of Toyota was up 0.95 percent, Nissan up 1.54 percent, Honda up 0.78 percent and Mazda rounded off with a 0.81 percent increase.

Toshiba, on the other hand, opened in red after reports emerged that Japan’s securities watchdog was likely to recommend a fine of about 7.5 billion yen (USD 60 million) for the accounting scandal that engulfed the company earlier in the year. Toshiba was found to have cooked its books over seven years, reporting more than USD 2 billion in overstated profits. The accounting scandal led to a shake-up of its senior management as the company continues to rebuild its image.

Shares of Toshiba was down nearly 0.5 percent.

Kospi up by 0.31 percent

South Korea’s Kospi saw gains on the back of investor appetite for heavyweights such as Samsung Electronics, which was up by 1.26 percent.

Hyundai shares also leaped by 1.59 percent, after the car manufacturer introduced its new luxury brand ‘Genesis’, whose production will begin in December with a total of six models in the pipeline. The Genesis brand is set to take on rivals in the luxury car segment such as Volvo, Audi, Mercedes, and BMW.

Meanwhile, Lotte shares were down some 2.19 percent as investors took in the news of founder and Chairman Shin Kyuk-ho filing a complaint against senior leaders in the group’s subsidiaries. The group recently failed to retain its license from the Korea Customs Service for its duty free shop in Seoul.

ASX opens 0.33 percent lower

In Australia, the ASX 200 benchmark index opened 0.33 percent lower on Wednesday, with commodity producers taking the biggest hit.

“Commodities were once again the biggest talking point in trade overnight,” said Evan Lucas, market strategist at IG, in a note, stating “the complex as a whole is trading at its lowest levels in over 15 years.”

Shares for Rio Tinto was down 2.68 percent and Fortescue Metals was down 3.15 percent, on the back of a decline in iron ore prices. BHP Billiton was down some 2.6 percent, following a slump in copper prices. Reports showed the London Metal Exchange benchmark copper was down to USD 4,590 a tonne on Tuesday, hitting its lowest in over six years on fears of slowing global demand.

Newcrest shares were down 3.63 percent, on the back of falling gold prices.

Oil producers Santos, Oil Search, and Woodside also dropped on the back of an oil market bogged down by oversupply concerns. Their shares were down between 1 to 2 percent.

US crude futures were down USD 1.07 at USD 40.67 a barrel while the internationally trade Brent crude was down 81 cents at USD 43.75 in late UStrading.

Share of Orica, an explosives and mining services company, were also down by 0.38 percent as it wrote down the value of its assets due to slower demand from the resources sector. The company reported a net loss of 1.27 billion Australian dollars (USD 900 million) for the year through September.

Meanwhile scrap metal merchant Sims Metal announced plans this morning to buy back up to 10 percent of its issued stock over the next year. Its shares were up 0.7 percent, trading at USD 7.240 a share.

Australian banks began the trading day in positive territory after the recent minutes of Reserve Bank of Australia’s (RBA) policy meeting confirmed an easing bias but also greater conviction of improving economic conditions in the country. Earlier in the month, the RBA had kept interest rates on hold at a record low of 2 percent.

The Australian dollar was flat at USD 0.7109 against the US dollar in early trade.

Also, investors will watch China’s House Price Index, due Wednesday, for signs of continued recovery in the mainland property market.


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