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Asian shares decline as markets await China PMIs; Australian banks fall

Asian markets tracked lower on Thursday as oil prices steadied after falling in the last session. Investors in the region will also keep an eye on several key data releases due later in the day.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 was off 0.06 percent as major tech names traded lower. Sony fell 1.69 percent and Nintendo was 2.18 percent lower. Financials, trading houses and automakers, however, mostly notched gains.

In South Korea, the benchmark Kospi index declined 0.84 percent ahead of the Bank of Korea’s interest rate decision, due at 9:00 a.m. HK/SIN. South Korea’s central bank is expected to raise rates for the first time in six years.

Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix, the two-largest names on the index, fell 3.38 percent and 4 percent, respectively, with the tech sector the worst-performing sector on the day.

Down Under, the S&P/ASX 200 lost 0.84 percent, with losses in materials and banking stocks dragging the index lower.

Australian financial stocks declined 1.5 percent after the government said it would launch an inquiry into the sector. Top executives from the country’s so-called “Big Four” had earlier sent a joint letter to Treasurer Scott Morrison calling for “a properly constituted inquiry” into sector in a bid to “restore trust.” Commonwealth Bank was down 2.4 percent and ANZ fell 1.29 percent.

Philippine markets are closed for Bonifacio Day. Markets in Kuwait, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates will also be closed.

Tech stocks sold off stateside on Wednesday as financials rose. The Dow Jones industrial average closed at a record high as investors focused on momentum in the U.S. economy. The second estimate for third-quarter GDP was revised to 3.3 percent from 3 percent. It was also above the 3.2 percent expected by markets.

The Dow rose 103.97 points, or 0.44 percent, to close at 23,940.68. The Nasdaq composite underperformed other major U.S. indexes, falling 1.27 percent as popular tech names recorded significant declines.

Yields on U.S. Treasurys moved higher as investors took note of better-than-expected GDP numbers and outgoing Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen’s remarks on the outlook for the U.S. economy. Yellen also said on Wednesday that she was “very worried” about the U.S. public debt trajectory.

In currencies, the pound hit a two-month high in the last session as negotiations between the U.K. and the European Union made progress. Sterling traded at $1.3413 at 8:11 a.m. HK/SIN after rising as high as $1.3447 on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the dollar firmed slightly against a basket of currencies. The dollar index stood at 93.288 at 8:13 a.m. HK/SIN, a touch above Wednesday’s close of 93.257. The greenback also held onto overnight gains made against the yen to trade at 111.97.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate traded flat at $57.30 per barrel after settling 1.2 percent lower in the last session. Brent crude had lost 0.8 percent to settle at $63.10 on Wednesday.

Oil prices had been volatile in the lead-up to a highly-anticipated meeting among major oil producers on Thursday. Markets are concerned about Russia’s commitment to extend production cuts. The existing output agreement, which includes OPEC and Russia, will expire in March next year.

Japan’s Oriental Land, which operates Tokyo Disney Resort, intends to grow the theme park to attract tourists, according to Nikkei. The company reportedly has plans to spend 300 billion yen ($2.68 billion) on the expansion. Shares of the company rose 3.77 percent following the news.

After several data-light sessions, Thursday’s agenda is fairly packed (all times in HK/SIN):

  • 9:00 a.m.: Bank of Korea interest rates decision
  • 9:00 a.m.: China official manufacturing and services PMI
  • 3:00 p.m.: Malaysia foreign reserves

Source: cnbc china
Asian shares decline as markets await China PMIs; Australian banks fall

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