Asia Mixed, China Under Pressure

Shares in Asia-Pacific were mixed on Thursday. Investors also monitored Hong Kong-listed shares of firms related to the Chinese video game sector after China’s state media once again took aim at the industry.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 restocked 144.04 points, or 0.2%, to 27,584.08.

The Japanese yen traded at 109.58 per U.S. dollar following a weakening yesterday from levels below 109 against the greenback.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng swooned 221.86 points, or 0.8%, to 26,204.69, shares of Tencent in the city slipped 3.9% while Netease dropped 3.8%.

Elsewhere, South Korean news agency Yonhap News reported Thursday that the toughest restrictions in the greater Seoul area are “highly likely to be extended again” as cases remain persistently high.

Australia recorded a trade surplus of around 10.5 billion Australian dollars (about $7.75 billion U.S.) in July, according to data released by the country’s Bureau of Statistics on Thursday. That was above forecasts for a 10.45 billion Australian dollar trade surplus, according to a Reuters poll.

The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.74, still higher than levels below $0.735 seen earlier in the trading week.

CHINA

In Shanghai, the CSI 300 fell 30.18 points, or 0.6%, to 4,948.67

The Securities Times, a publication under the Chinese Communist Party’s official newspaper People’s Daily, published an article on Thursday arguing that gaming firms should not have preferential tax measures that were introduced to encourage the development of the domestic software sector — as the gaming industry is more developed now.

It said that gaming should share the same tax policies as other industries, and warned that the industry should be "mentally prepared for this."

Shares of Tencent and NetEase tanked earlier this week after Chinese state media branded online gaming "opium" in an article that was deleted a few hours after publication and later republished with a new headline and a removal of the reference to the word.

The COVID situation in China may have weighed on investor sentiment regionally. Daily infections have bene rising again in the country as the delta variant spreads across China, with authorities imposing mass testing and widespread travel restrictions in some areas.

In other markets

The Kospi index in Korea docked 4.25 points, or 0.1%, to 3,276.13.

In Taiwan, the Taiex index subtracted 20.77 points, or 0.1%, to 17,603.12

In Singapore, the Straits Times Index dropped 7.8 points, or 0.3%, to 3,175.10.

In New Zealand, the NZX 50 staggered 42.96 points, or 0.3%, to 12,754.33.

In Australia, the ASX 200 advanced 7.97 points, or 0.1%, to 7,511.15