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Asia Pacific Market: Stocks mostly down on geopolitical tensions

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Pacific share market closed mostly down in thin trading on Monday, 17 April 2017, as geopolitical tensions in Korea continued to discourage buying. Markets in Australia, and were closed for Easter Monday.

Concerns of military conflict between the U.S. and North Korea grew over the past week. On Saturday, North Korea rolled a long-range ballistic missile, among other military equipment, through the streets of Pyongyang to commemorate the birth of the country's late founder, Kim Il Sung. The next day it unsuccessfully fired a ballistic missile, prompting a senior Trump administration official to warn that North Korea's provocative behavior couldn't continuea warning underlined Monday by Vice President Mike Pence, who is visiting the region.

Among Asian bourses

Japan Stocks snap four-session losing streak

The Japan share market finished session higher after recouping losses late afternoon, snapping four-session losing streak, supported by buying on dips by individual investors. Speculation about the Bank of Japan's purchase of exchange-traded funds also helped push up the market. However, market topside was capped amid yen's appreciation against the dollar and growing tensions on the Korean peninsula. The 225-issue Nikkei average gained 19.63 points, or 0.11 percent, to end at 18,355.26. The TOPIX index of all First Section issues finished up 6.62 points, or 0.45 percent, at 1,465.69. Rising stocks outnumbered declining ones on the Tokyo Stock Exchange by 2177 to 868 and 289 ended unchanged. The Nikkei Volatility, which measures the implied volatility of Nikkei 225 options, was up 1.23% to 23.03 a new 3-month high.

Movie distributor Toho attracted hefty purchases on its stronger-than-expected group operating profit for the business year that ended in February, announced on Friday. Game-maker Nintendo also went up with investors taking heart from brisk sales of the Nintendo Switch game console.

Among other major winners were utilities, such as Tokyo Electric, Kansai Electric, Tokyo Gas and Osaka Gas, and realtors, including Mitsui Fudosan, Mitsubishi Estate and Sumitomo Realty.

By contrast, the higher yen battered export-oriented issues, namely automakers Toyota and Honda and technology firm Kyocera. Also on the minus side were clothing store chain operator Fast Retailing and mobile phone carrier SoftBank.

China Stocks fall on anti-speculation crackdown

The Mainland China closed lower, as investors dumped stocks across the board after Chinese authorities promised to curb speculation and prevent investor misdeeds, shrugging off better-than-expected GDP data for first quarter. A flurry of economic data released on Monday morning, including better-than-expected economic growth in the first quarter, was largely priced in. Main sectors fell broadly led by real estate stocks. The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index lost 0.8% or 23.9 points to end at 3,222.2. The large-cap CSI300 dropped 0.2% or 6.6 points to 3,479.9. The Shenzhen Component Index closed 0.7% lower to 10,450.9, and the startup board ChiNext index lost 1% to 1,868.3.

Market sentiment worsened over an escalating regulatory crackdown on stock manipulation, despite stronger-than-expected economic data for the first quarter. Over the weekend China's top securities regulator, Liu Shiyu, urged stock exchanges to strengthen regulation and severely punish violations. Comments from Mr. Liu add psychological pressure on the market.

The National Bureau of Statistics reported China's GDP grew 6.9% in the first quarter, the fastest pace since the third quarter of 2015. The result was up from the 6.8% growth in the previous quarter and well above China's annual target of about 6.5% growth.

Shares in recently listed companies tumbled after securities regulators warned of speculative trading in those stocks, while some stocks related to Xiongan New Area also retreated following sharp gains earlier this month.

The Shanghai-listed shares of Baiyin Nonferrous Group and the Shenzhen-listed shares of Zhejiang Meili High Technology, which were listed earlier this year and witnessed big gains, plunged 10% on Monday.

Several Xiongan-related stocks also resumed trading on Monday, but their performances were mixed. Rigging and sling product maker Juli Sling sank by its allowable limit of 10% to 12.41 yuan in Shenzhen. Property developer China Fortune Land Development also lost 10% to 39.95 yuan in Shanghai. However, Beijing-based cement producer and property developer BBMG rose by its 10% limit to 9.1 yuan in Shanghai.

Fourteen Chinese companies were halted from share trading last week, citing the need to evaluate the potential impact from Xiongan, a new special economic zone that Beijing hopes to build in Hebei province, modelled on the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone and the Shanghai Pudong New Area. The Shanghai Stock Exchange also issued a statement warning investors against risks in Xiongan-related stocks.

India stocks drop for third day in a row

Key benchmark indices settled with small losses after a quiet session of trade amid lack of global cues as most world markets remained close for holiday. The barometer index, the S&P BSE Sensex, shed 47.79 points or 0.16% to settle at 29,413.66. The Nifty 50 index fell 11.50 points or 0.13% to settle at 9,139.30. The Sensex and the Nifty, both, hit their lowest closing levels in almost three-weeks. Realty stocks logged steep gains led by Indiabulls Real Estate. Bank and metal stocks dropped.

Metal and mining stocks fell after reports China, which produces half the world's steel, churned out a record quantity in March as mills benefited from healthy margins, setting the scene for a subsequent decline in prices. Vedanta (down 3.2%), Steel Authority of India (Sail) (down 0.89%), National Aluminium Company (down 0.28%), Hindustan Zinc (down 0.89%), Jindal Steel & Power (down 0.9%), Hindalco Industries (down 1.06%), Tata Steel (down 0.42%), NMDC (down 1.35%), Hindustan Copper (down 0.15%) edged lower. JSW Steel (up 1.73%) rose.

L&T rose 0.14% after the company said that its construction L&T Construction has won orders worth Rs 2694 crore across various business segments. The announcement was made during market hours today, 17 April 2017.

Dr Reddy's Laboratories gained 0.72% after the company announced that the audit of its API Srikakulam plant in Andhra Pradesh by the US Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) was completed on Friday, 14 April 2017, with no observations. The announcement was made on Friday, 14 April 2017.

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(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Mon, April 17 2017. 17:46 IST