Asian Shares Mixed As U.S.-China Tensions Rise

Asian stocks ended mixed on Friday as worries about rising U.S.-China tensions offset investor optimism over U.S. President-elect Joe Biden announcing a $1.9 trillion stimulus package to boost the world’s largest economy.

Biden revealed details of the $1.9 trillion stimulus proposal to support American households and businesses amid the pandemic.

Chinese shares ended a choppy session on a flat note after the U.S. government blacklisted Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi Corp. and ten other companies over alleged military links.

Hong Kong stocks ended modestly higher even as Xiaomi shares crashed almost 10 percent on U.S. sanctions. The Hang Seng Index edged up 77.00 points, or 0.3 percent, to 28,573.86.

Japanese shares fell from the 30-year high hit the previous day even as tech shares gained ground on the back of robust earnings from Taiwanese chipmaker TSMC.

The Nikkei 225 Index ended down 179.08 points, or 0.6 percent, at 28,519.18, snapping a five-day winning streak. The broader Topix closed 0.9 percent lower at 1,856.61.

Seiko Epson surged 7.3 percent, Tokyo Electron gained 3.9 percent and Advantest added 2.8 percent after Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC) posted its best-ever quarterly profit and raised revenue and capital spending estimates.

Canon soared 8.4 percent after the company raised its profit forecast for the year just ended. Fast Retailing dropped 2.9 percent after reporting a drop in first quarter revenue.

Australian markets ended little changed with a positive bias as there was a muted reaction to the U.S. economic stimulus plan.

Lender Commonwealth fell 1.1 percent, while NAB and Westpac both rose about 1.5 percent. Miners BHP, Fortescue Metals Group and Rio Tinto rose between 0.7 percent and 1.7 percent. Energy stocks ended mixed, with Santos falling 1.1 percent and Beach Energy falling half a percent.

Gold Miners Evolution Mining, Regis Resources and Northern Star Resources fell about 1 percent. In the tech sector, WiseTech Global lost 2.5 percent and Appen gave up 1.7 percent, while Afterpay surged 10 percent.

Objective Corp. jumped 4.3 percent after the software vendor forecast a 70 percent surge in its profit for the first half of the year.

On the economic front, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said that the total value of overall home loans in Australia was up a seasonally adjusted 5.6 percent month-on-month in November.

Seoul stocks tumbled as investors booked profits from the recent rally. The benchmark Kospi lost 64.03 points, or 2 percent, to finish at 3,085.90. Samsung Electronics, SK Hynix, LG Chem and Hyundai Motor declined 2-4 percent.

After keeping policy rates unchanged, Bank of Korea’s Governor Lee Ju-yeol warned against the excessive borrowing that has spurred a rally in the country’s stock and property markets.

New Zealand shares finished the week on a downbeat note as Treasury yields climbed. The benchmark NZX-50 Index ended down 91.18 points, or 0.7 percent, at 13,024.69. The index fell 3.4 percent for the week, with energy stocks such as Meridian Energy and Contact Energy taking a severe beating.

U.S. stocks ended slightly lower overnight as disappointing jobless claims and consumer confidence data offset stimulus hopes.

In wide-ranging remarks, Fed chairman Powell downplayed the risk of higher inflation and talk of the central bank tapering its bond purchases in the near term.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 0.2 percent, the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite edged down 0.1 percent and the S&P 500 eased 0.4 percent.

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