Asia: Markets struggle as profit-taking offsets Wall St rally

[HONG KONG] Asian equities were mostly lower Tuesday after healthy gains in the previous session attracted profit-takers, offsetting a strong lead from Wall Street.

Shanghai tumbled 2.20 per cent, or 73.24 points, to 3,263.05 after rallying Monday in response to the Chinese central bank's weekend interest rate cut. Hong Kong shed 0.74 per cent, or 184.66 points, to end at 24,702.78 Tokyo closed flat, slipping 0.06 per cent or 11.72 points to 18,815.16.

Sydney - which ended Monday at a seven-year high - fell 0.42 per cent, or 24.98 points, to 5,933.90 after the Australian central bank kept interest rates on hold, confounding expectations for a cut to another record low.

However, Seoul finished 0.23 per cent, or 4.57 points, higher at 2,001.38.

US shares added to their six-year bull run Monday, with the Dow and S&P 500 again ending at record highs, while the Nasdaq surged above 5,000 for the first time since 2000, when the dot-com bubble burst.

The tech-rich Nasdaq jumped 0.90 percent, the Dow rose 0.86 per cent and the S&P advanced 0.61 per cent.

The gains came on a stream of merger announcements, including the US$16.7 billion acquisition of Freescale Semiconductor by NXP Semiconductor, in a deal that links two Nasdaq companies.

On currency markets the dollar fetched 119.76 yen, down from 120.17 yen in New York, while the euro rose to US$1.1194 from US$1.1182.

The greenback was also at 6.2748 yuan, against 6.2850 in US trade, levels not seen since October 2012 and well up from 6.2668 on Friday before the rate cut.

In Sydney investors reversed early gains after the Reserve bank of Australia held rates at record lows.

"The market was expecting another cut and because that didn't come through, and given that the RBA didn't deliver, you're getting a selloff," Nader Naeimi, Sydney-based head of dynamic asset allocation at AMP Capital Investors, told Bloomberg News.

"The market has run really hard, so needs a period of consolidation and this is providing the trigger." The Australian dollar, which has suffered heavy selling against its US counterpart in recent months, climbed to 78.28 US cents from 77.69 US cents.

Traders are watching the start Thursday of the annual meeting of China's rubber-stamp legislature, the National People's Congress, at which Premier Li Keqiang is expected to deliver an address on the state of the economy.

Oil prices recovered slightly after sliding in the previous session. US benchmark West Texas Intermediate rose 55 cents to US$50.14 while Brent crude gained 99 cents to US$60.53.

Gold fetched US$1,207.80 against US$1,216.55 late Monday.

In other markets, Wellington was flat, edging up 0.99 points to 5,893.67.

Contact Energy rose 0.33 per cent to NZ$6.11 and market heavyweight Fletcher Building was unchanged at NZ$8.63.

Taipei was marginally higher, putting on 4.41 points to 9.605.77. Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. rose 1.01 percent to Tw$150.5 while smartphone maker HTC fell 3.02 percentto Tw$144.5.

Manila was marginally higher, ticking up 2.59 points to 7,776.51. Philippine Long Distance Telephone fell 0.13 per cent to 3,096 pesos while GT Capital Holdings rose 3.87 percent to 1,260 pesos.

Singapore closed up 0.54 per cent, or 18.22 points, to 3,422.11. Oil rig maker Keppel Corp rose 0.91 per cent to Sg$8.84 while DBS Bank declined 0.10 per cent to Sg$19.26.

Jakarta edged down 3.21 points to 5,474.62. Auto maker Astra International gained 1.59 percent to 8,000 rupiah, while cigarette maker Gudang Garam fell 0.05 percent to 55,000 rupiah.

Kuala Lumpur gained 0.23 per cent, or 4.12 points, to 1,821.25. Malayan Banking rose 1.63 per cent to 9.35 ringgit, AMMB Holdings went up 0.94 per cent to 6.43 while Sime Darby dropped 0.64 per cent to 9.32 ringgit.

Mumbai rose 0.46 per cent, or 134.59 points, to end at 29,593.73 points. Reliance Industries rose 4.39 per cent to 901.65 rupees, while Coal India fell 3.89 per cent to 379.35 rupees.

Bangkok slid 1.22 per cent, or 19.30 points, to 1,562.84. Bank of Ayudhya fell 7.88 per cent to 55.50 baht, while oil company PTT Exploration and Production dropped 3.06 per cent to 111.00 baht.


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