Asia Mixed as Japan Auto Markets Slip

Asia-Pacific markets were mixed by the close on Wednesday. Investors remained cautious despite vaccine hopes, as coronavirus cases continued to surge.

The Nikkei 225 in Tokyo slumped 286.48 points, or 1.1%, to 25,728.14

Japanese exports in October did much better than expected, falling 0.2%, according to the Ministry of Finance. That’s compared to a 4.5% decline forecast by economists in an economist poll. It followed a 4.9% drop in September.

Exports were helped by a rise in demand for Japanese cars by China and the U.S., which drove up shipments.

However, automakers — among the country’s key exports — fell across the board. Mitsubishi Motor dropped almost 5%, while Honda declined 3.8%. Toyota slipped 1.6%.

SoftBank shares slipped 0.91%. Its CEO Masayoshi Son said he aggressively sold assets this year to prepare for a "worst case scenario" in which the world shuts down during a second wave of coronavirus outbreaks.

The Japanese yen strengthened further in the afternoon, last trading at 103.85 per U.S. dollar, as compared to levels above 104.5 earlier.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index added 129.20 points, or 0.5%, to 26,544.29.

In company news, Taiwan’s Foxconn opened a $26-million factory in northern Vietnam to produce displays. Foxconn shares bounced nearly 1% for the day.

The Australian dollar was at $0.7308 against the U.S. dollar, firming from earlier levels.

In other markets

In Shanghai, the CSI 300 faded 3.12 points, or 0.1%, to 4,891.67.

In Korea, the Kospi index recovered 6.49 points, or 0.3%, to 2,545.64.

In Taiwan, the Taiex Index screamed higher 180.28 points, or 1.3%, to 13,733.29.

In Singapore, the Straits Times Index moved higher 10.04 points, or 0.4%, to 2,788.59

In New Zealand, the NZX 50 dropped 159.07 points, or 1.3%, to 12,605.96

In Australia, the ASX 200 added 32.89 points, or 0.5%, to 6,531.10.