Asia Closes Mostly Higher

Asian markets closed mostly higher on Wednesday as the dollar continued its decline against a basket of other currencies. Most indexes in the region had recorded significant gains in the last session.

The Nikkei 225 average in Japan retreated 183.37 points, or 0.8%, to 23,940.78. The decline came as the dollar continued its fall against the yen. Major automakers, financials and manufacturing companies recorded declines, with Fanuc closing lower by 3.7%

Major tech names were also broadly lower: Nikon fell 1.1% and Sony tumbled 5.1% by the end of the day.

Data released Wednesday showed the country's exports increased 9.3% last month when compared to one year ago. While that was below the 10.1% forecast in an economist poll, the value of Japan's December exports to Asia still rose to a new record.

The U.S. dollar fetched 110.01 yen, having fallen as low as 109.79 earlier. The dollar had risen as high as 111.17 on Tuesday after the Bank of Japan kept its monetary policy steady — but that rally later subsided.

The Hang Seng Index in Hong Kong gained another 27.99 points, or 0.1%, to 32,958.69.

Energy-related stocks carved out significant gains, with Petrochina rising 6.6%. Financials were mixed, with insurer AIA slipping 0.3% and HSBC edging up 0.1% ahead of the market close.

Hong Kong's benchmark index, which closed higher for the sixth consecutive session on Tuesday, is trading more than 9% higher year-to-date.

Over in Seoul, the technology sector was a mixed picture, with Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix higher by 0.4% and 1.6%, respectively.
LG Electronics closed down 6.4%

Most sectors gained in Australia, with the exception of the materials and telecommunications sub-indexes. The country's "Big Four" banks were mostly higher, with Westpac rising 0.4% on the day.

Major mining names were broadly lower: Rio Tinto declined 0.4% and BHP edged down 0.4% That followed the move lower in base metal prices overnight on the back of soft China demand data.


In Shanghai, the CSI 300 improved 7.28 points, or 0.2%, to 4,389.89

Shenzhen-listed HNA Investment Group announced it would suspend trade of its shares from Jan. 24 pending an announcement. No reason was provided for the halt.

Meanwhile, shares of Leshi Internet Information and Technology plunged 10%, the daily fall limit, after its shares began trading on Wednesday following a nine-month trading halt.

In other markets

The Kospi in Korea inched up 1.4 points, or 0.1%, to 2,538

In Taiwan, the Taiex Index unloaded 100.95 points, or 0.9%, to 11,152.16

In Singapore, the Straits Times Index added 17.16 points, or 0.5%, to 3,609.24

In New Zealand, the NZX 50 regrouped 16.46 points, or 0.2%, to 8,324.09

In Australia, the ASX 200 gained 17.7 points, or 0.3%, to 6,054.66