Markets in Asia Slip

Asian stocks closed mixed on the first trading day of the month after finishing February with losses. Declines in Japan and Australia came after sharp losses were recorded stateside in the previous session, while China markets rose.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 lost 343.77 points, or 1.6%, to 21,724.47, with automakers, technology stocks and financials closing lower.

The Hang Seng Index recovered 199.53 points, or 0.7%, to 31,044.25

Heavyweight SoftBank Group lost 1.1%, Toyota slid 2.1% and apparel company Fast Retailing was off 1.2% by the end of the session. Among manufacturing names, Fanuc declined 1.1% and Kyocera lost 2.1%

Against the yen, the U.S. dollar pared some of Wednesday's losses to trade at 106.76, but remained below levels around the 107 handle seen during Asian trade in the last session.

In Hong Kong, the financials sector inched higher by 0.1% after earlier trading in negative territory, with China Construction Bank advancing 0.1% while HSBC traded lower by 0.3% an hour before the market close.

Property developers were a mixed picture, although several large caps recorded significant gains: Country Garden tacked on 1.6%, Sino Land gained 3.2% and CK Asset rose 1.2%. Index heavyweight Tencent traded higher by 3% ahead of the close.

Australian markets proceeded downward. Losses were led by the energy sub-index, which fell 2.2% Mining majors were also weaker on the day, with Rio Tinto falling 4.1% by the end of the session.

Oil producers closed lower as crude prices remained soft, with Oil Search down 4.5%. Australia's "Big Four" banks were also weaker, with ANZ down 0.9% while its peers recorded slighter losses.


The CSI 300 gained 25.45 points, or 0.6%, to 4,049.09, with technology names and consumer stocks among the best-performers on the day.

Caixin manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index for February released on Thursday came in at 51.6, a touch above the 51.3 forecast. Official manufacturing PMI had missed forecasts, with analysts noting the impact of the Lunar New Year holiday on manufacturing activity.

In other markets

Korean markets were closed for holiday

In Taiwan, the Taiex returned from holiday to lose 29.68 points, or 0.3%, to 10,785.79

In Singapore, the Straits Times Index dropped 4.09 points, or 0.1%, to 3,513.85

In New Zealand, the NZX 50 declined 31.11 points, or 0.4%, to 8,342.71

The ASX 200 gave back 42.62 points, or 0.7%, to 5,973.34