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Asia Pacific Market: Stocks down on geopolitical tensions

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Pacific share market ended lower on Thursday, 10 August 2017, on tracking weak cues from offshore market overnight and due to elevated geopolitical concerns regarding North Korea. MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares fell 0.5%.

Geopolitical tensions elevated after North Korea said it is considering launching intermediate missiles into waters near the U. S. territory of Guam. It also outlined detailed plans for a missile strike near Guam, which is more than 3,000 km (2,000 miles) to the southeast of North Korea and home to about 163,000 people, a U. S. Navy base that includes a submarine squadron and an air base. North Korea will develop a plan by mid-August for launching missiles to fall 30 to 40 kilometers away from Guam in the Pacific Ocean, the nation's state media reported Thursday.

U. S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Wednesday the Asian country posed no "imminent threat," several hours after U. S. President Donald said further threats from the North would be met with "fire and fury."

In commodities, crude oil regained momentum as data pointed to declining U. S. inventories. Brent crude was up 80 cents at $53.50 a barrel and U. S. crude was up 60 cents and back up to $50. Steel and copper prices stayed strong in metals markets.

The market's main backstop in times of strain, gold, hit a two-month high of $1,282 an ounce amid the nervousness. It was not only the threat of conflict with nuclear-ambitious North Korea. A U. S. Navy destroyer sailed within 12 nautical miles of an artificial island built up by China in a challenge to Beijing's territorial claims.

Among Asian bourses

Australia Stocks fall in choppy trade

Australian finished session slight lower, as sentiments turned downbeat, with shares of financial being major losers, meanwhile ex-dividend trading Rio Tinto also weighed on the index. At the close, the S&P/ASX 200 index fell 4.76 points, or 0.1%, to 5,760.9.

Top lenders Westpac Banking Corp and Australia and New Zealand Banking Group fell about 0.3% each while National Australia Bank recovered to settle slightly higher.

Rio Tinto, trading ex-dividend, was the biggest drag on the index. The mining giant fell 2.1% to close at its lowest in a week, while BHP Billiton gave up gains to slip 0.5%.

Shares of Woolworths dipped 0.8% after Australia's antitrust regulator said it was concerned BP Plc's plan to buy the petrol stations of the grocery giant would hurt competition, a sign it may block the A$1.8 billion deal.

Meanwhile, gold stocks finished the session strong, backed by solid yellow metal prices. Newcrest Mining rose 3.8% to post its highest close in over seven weeks, and kept the index from slipping further.

Financial services giant AMP fell 3per cent after it said first-half statutory profit had slipped 15% to A$445 million, on the back of volatile market movements.

Virgin Australia shares were up 6% after reported a smaller-than-expected annual loss and said its outlook had brightened with a surge in business confidence lifting corporate traffic. The carrier posted A$220.3 million full-year loss saying a weak domestic market had weighed on improved cost management and improvements in the international business.

AGL Energy shares closed at A$25, after the energy retailer swung to a full-year net profit of A$539 million, from its previous year's A$408 million loss.

Nikkei falls on geopolitical concerns

The Japan share market finished session slight lower, as risk sentiments remained downbeat amid geopolitical concerns over the Korean Peninsula while some investors squared away positions ahead of the three-day Obon holiday weekend here in Japan. Most of the TSE sectors declined with insurance, bank and construction-linked shares comprised those that declined the most. The Nikkei finished down 8.97 points, or 0.1%, at 19,729.74. The broader Topix shed 0.65 point to 1,617.25. Tokyo markets closed Friday for Japan public holiday.

Financial stocks underperformed after U. S. Treasury yields fell as bond prices rose in Wednesday's flight to safety. Insurers and banks, which invest in higher-yielding products such as foreign bonds, underperformed after U. S. Treasury yields fell on Wednesday, with the yields on the benchmark 10-year note hitting a six-week low. Dai-ichi Life Holdings dropped 1%, T&D Holdings fell 2.2% while Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group declined 0.9%.

Cosmetics maker Shiseido Co soared 13.8% after raising its operating profit outlook to 56 billion yen from 45.5 billion yen for the year through December, thanks to strong sales in high-end cosmetics.

It also raised its annual dividend forecast to 25 yen from 20 yen per share.

Toshiba Corp. Shares gained 1% to close at 293 yen after the troubled conglomerate met a deadline to report its long-awaited earnings results, reducing the risk that the firm will be delisted from the Tokyo Stock Exchange. The embattled electronics firm posted a loss of $8.8 billion for the last fiscal year. Auditor PricewaterhouseCoopers Aarata gave a "qualified opinion" on the financial statements, meaning it broadly endorsed the results. Toshiba has struggled to recover from a 2015 accounting scandal. The firm's troubles started in 2015 when it was found to have inflated the previous seven years' profits by $1.2 billion. The accounting scandal led to the resignation of several members of the firm's senior management, including the chief executive.

China Stocks fall on profit booking

The Mainland China dropped, as profit taking triggered on tracking weak cues from regional and global markets, with materials and resources stocks being major losers after China's largest aluminium producer warning investors of market risks. The blue-chip CSI300 index fell 0.4%, to 3,715.92 points. The Shanghai Composite Index lost 0.4%, clsoing at 3,261.75 points.

The materials sub-index, which had risen more than 30% since the beginning of June lost 2.4%, weighed down by losses in steel producers. Shares in steel and copper producers were also hit even as prices of those commodities remained strong. Chinese steel futures rose to near 4-1/2-year highs on Thursday, and Shanghai copper futures remained at levels last seen in 2013. Jiangxi Copper Co closed down 4.3%, and Baoshan Iron & Steel Co fell 4.8%. Hesteel Co was off by 4%.

Shares in Aluminum Corp of China were down 4% from their highest close in more than two years, after the company warned investors to be aware of market volatility and secondary market trading risks. Chalco said rises in the price of electricity could increase costs, and that market expectations have changed. China aluminium prices hit five-year highs on Thursday as investors bet that capacity closures would tighten supply.

Hong Kong Stocks hit by US - North Korea tensions

The Hong Kong finished lower for second straight session, as risk-off selling flared on elevated tension over North Korea. The Hang Seng Index ended down 313 points or 1% to 27,444. The H-share index fell 180 points or 1.6% to 10,782. Turnover increased to HK$122 billion from HK$96.4 billion on Wednesday.

Wharf Holdings (00004) plunged 7% to HK$74.05 after Nomura has downgraded its rating for the developer to "neutral" from "buy".

HKEX (00388) dived 4.3% to HK$218. Deutsche Bank has lifted its target price for the stock exchange operator to HK$170.7 but maintained its "sell" rating.

Hang Seng Bank (00011) gained 1% to HK$176.3 ahead of its going ex-dividend tomorrow. JP Morgan upgraded its rating for the local bank to "overweight" from "neutral". HSBC (00005) slipped 1.5% to HK$76.5.

China Mobile (00941) rose 2.8% to HK$87 after the mobile services giant reported its half-yearly earnings climbed 3.5% from a year earlier to 62.7 billion yuan. It also announced an interim dividend of HK$1.623 a share and a special dividend of HK$3.20 a share.

Wanda Hotel Development surged 28% after announcing plans to buy assets worth more than $1 billion from companies controlled by its billionaire founder Wang Jianlin. Trading in Wanda's shares was halted on Wednesday.

Sensex hits over one-month closing low

Indian dropped in tandem with global stocks to register losses for fourth day in a row. The barometer index, the S&P BSE Sensex, lost 266.51 points or 0.84% to settle at 31,531.33. The Nifty 50 index lost 87.80 points or 0.89% to settle at 9,820.25. Global stocks declined on escalating tensions between the US and North Korea.

Tata Motors slumped 8.6% to Rs 380.90 after declaring Q1 result after market hours yesterday, 9 August 2017. ata Motors' consolidated net profit rose 41.59% to Rs 3200 crore on 9.92% drop in revenue to Rs 58651 crore in Q1 June 2017 over Q1 June 2016.

Tata Motors' consolidated revenue was lower due to translation impact from Pound to Rupee. Also, PAT in Q1 June 2017 was boosted by a one-time gain of Rs 3609 crore relating to the changes made to the Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) pension plans.

Aurobindo Pharma declined 0.17%, with the stock extending losses after the company reported weak Q1 June 2017 results after market hours yesterday, 9 August 2017. Aurobindo Pharma's consolidated net profit fell 11.4% to Rs 518.50 crore on 2.3% decline in revenue from operations to Rs 3678.70 crore in Q1 June 2017 over Q1 June 2016. EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortization) before forex and other income fell 5.3% to Rs 841.60 crore in Q1 June 2017 over Q1 June 2016. EBITDA margin contracted to 22.9% in Q1 June 2017, from 23.6% in Q1 June 2016.

Eicher Motors lost 4.21%. The company's consolidated net profit rose 22.1% to Rs 459.62 crore on 28.5% growth in net sales to Rs 1991.78 crore in Q1 June 2017 over Q1 June 2016. The result was announced after market hours yesterday, 9 August 2017.

NMDC declined 3.68%. The company's net profit rose 36.2% to Rs 969.20 crore on 65.1% growth in net sales to Rs 2841.53 crore in Q1 June 2017 over Q1 June 2016. The result was announced after market hours yesterday, 9 August 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: Thu, August 10 2017. 18:16 IST