Asian Shares Mixed In Cautious Trading

Asian stocks turned in a mixed performance on Friday, with uncertainty over a U.S. stimulus deal and worries about a continued surge in coronavirus cases in several parts of Europe and the U.S. keeping investors worried.

Chinese shares tumbled as traders monitored coronavirus developments and progress on the U.S. stimulus talks. The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index slumped 34.50 points, or 1 percent, to 3,278, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index ended up 132.65 points, or 0.5 percent, at 24,918.78.

Japanese shares closed higher as investors held out hopes that a U.S. stimulus package would eventually be passed. The Nikkei 225 Index inched up 42.32 points, or 0.2 percent, to 23,516.59 ahead of a string of earnings reports due next week. The broader Topix closed 0.3 percent higher at 1,625.32.

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries soared 6.6 percent after reports that it will freeze development of its SpaceJet regional jet. Online games developer Nexon jumped 17.2 percent on news that it will join the Nikkei stock average, replacing FamilyMart Co.

Advantest fell over 1 percent and Tokyo Electron lost 2.7 percent after Intel reported a surprise drop in data center sales and issued a tepid forecast.

The manufacturing sector in Japan continued to contract in October, albeit at a slower pace, the latest survey from Jibun Bank revealed with a manufacturing PMI score of 48.0, up from 47.7 in September.

The report also showed that the services index fell to 46.6 from 46.9, while the composite index ticked up to 46.7 from 46.6.

Separately, government data showed that consumer prices in Japan were down a seasonally adjusted 0.1 percent month-on-month in September. That was in line with expectations and unchanged from the August reading.

Australian stocks ended on a flat note as manufacturing data disappointed and the second U.S. presidential debate ended up being a much calmer affair. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index edged down 6.80 points, or 0.1 percent, to 6,167, while the broader All Ordinaries Index ended down 10 points, or 0.2 percent, at 6,373.70.

Miners BHP and Rio Tinto fell 1.3 percent and 0.9 percent, respectively, after a survey showed the manufacturing sector in Australia expanded at a slower pace in October with a PMI score of 54.2, down from 55.4 in September. However, services activity rose solidly in the month, building on a mild gain in September.

Mineral sands producer Iluka Resources plunged more than 48 percent as the stock traded on a demerger basis after spinning off its unit Deterra Royalties.

Gold miners Evolution Mining, Newcrest Mining and Resolute Mining lost 2-3 percent after an overnight slump in bullion prices.

Meanwhile, BlueScope Steel surged nearly 11 percent after giving a positive FY21 update. Energy stocks Woodside Petroleum, Beach Energy, Oil Search and Santos climbed 1-4 percent. Qantas Airways jumped 2.7 percent. The airline said it aims to save A$600 million this year to stay viable.

Seoul stocks ended a choppy session higher on optimism for improved corporate earnings in the third quarter. The benchmark Kospi inched up 5.76 points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,360.81, with automakers and banks pacing the gainers ahead of flurry of earnings reports scheduled for next week.

New Zealand shares eked out modest gains, with the benchmark NZX-50 Index ending up 63.05 points, or 0.5 percent, at 12,470.34.

Consumer prices in New Zealand rose 0.7 percent sequentially in the third quarter of 2020, Statistics New Zealand said today. That was shy of expectations for an increase of 0.9 percent following the 0.5 percent contraction in the three months prior. Seasonally adjusted, inflation was up 0.3 percent quarter-on-quarter.

U.S. stocks rose overnight as investors cheered positive jobless claims and home sales data and priced in the possibility of Biden’s victory.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 both gained about half a percent, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index edged up 0.2 percent.

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