Asian Shares Mostly Higher In Cautious Trading

Asian stocks ended broadly higher Monday despite news of fresh regulatory crackdowns on Chinese firms and lingering concerns over the impact of COVID-19.

Chinese shares advanced despite reports that the Biden administration was weighing a new probe into Chinese subsidies. The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index rose 12.26 points, or 0.3 percent, to 3,715.37.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index fell 392.10 points, or 1.50 percent, to 25,813.81, with tech stocks tumbling after the Financial Times reported that Beijing wants to break up Ant Group’s Alipay and create a separate app for its loan business.

Chinese electric vehicle stocks also fell after the country’s industry minister said there are “too many” EV makers in China and the government will encourage consolidation.

Japanese shares reversed early losses to end slightly higher for the day amid rising bets that Taro Kono will become the country’s next prime minister.

The Nikkei 225 Index edged up 65.53 points, or 0.2 percent, to 30,447.37, marking an almost seven-month closing high. The broader Topix closed 0.3 percent higher at 2,097.71, reaching a three-decade high.

Shinsei Bank jumped 13 percent to extend gains for the second day running after an unsolicited bid by SBI Holdings. Tech stocks Advantest and Tokyo Electron gained 2 percent and 1.5 percent, respectively. Automakers Honda, Nissan and Toyota fell over 1 percent.

Australian shares fluctuated before ending higher amid news the country will expand its COVID-19 vaccination drive. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index rose 18.60 points, or 0.3 percent, to 7,425.20, while the broader All Ordinaries Index ended up 19.90 points, or 0.3 percent, at 7,726.10.

Energy stocks such Woodside Petroleum and Santos rose around 2 percent as oil prices climbed to a one-week high on U.S. supply concerns. Sydney Airport surged 4.6 percent after getting a sweetened takeover offer.

Miners ended broadly higher, with OZ Minerals rallying 4.2 percent and Lynas Rare Earths surging 5.4 percent after Nickel prices jumped on Friday to their highest in more than seven years.

Seoul stocks ended a choppy session marginally higher amid uncertainty about U.S. inflation, China’s tech crackdown and worries about the spread of Delta variant of the coronavirus. Traders also reacted to reports suggesting that Pyongyang successfully test-fired a new type of long-range cruise missile over the weekend.

Tech heavyweights Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix both rose over 1 percent, while steelmaker POSCO jumped 4.2 percent.

Mobile messenger operator Kakao and its subsidiaries came under selling pressure amid a political move to regulate unfair business practices in platform businesses. Kakao Corp. tumbled 4.2 percent and KakaoBank slumped 6.2 percent.

New Zealand shares rose notably, with the benchmark NZX-50 Index climbing 106.50 points, or 0.8 percent, to 13,170.89 as the country extended a strict lockdown in its largest city.

Infratil shares rallied 2.3 percent after the infrastructure investment company announced it was setting up a renewable energy investment business in Singapore.

In economic news, food prices in New Zealand were up 2.4 percent year-on-year in August, Statistics New Zealand said, slowing from 2.8 percent in July.

U.S stocks retreated on Friday as virus worries persisted despite President Biden announcing new vaccination mandates.

The Dow and the S&P 500 both fell around 0.8 percent to extend losses for the fifth consecutive session, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite shed 0.9 percent.

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