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Japan’s Nikkei Falls while Other Asian Stock Markets Gain

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Most Asian stock markets gained while Japan edged down following Wall Street’s rally at the end of a turbulent week.

The Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.5 per cent to 2,495.16 points while Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 lost 0.6 per cent to 19,964.54. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng advanced 0.2 per cent to 25,531.63 and Seoul’s Kospi added 0.6 per cent to 2,040.76.

Sydney’s S&P-ASX 200 gained 0.7 per cent to 5,634.30 and benchmarks in New Zealand, Taiwan and Southeast Asia also rose.

US stocks staged a last-minute turnaround that put the market on track to end the volatile week with a gain. That followed the market’s best day in 10 years. Health care and technology companies, banks and industrial stocks accounted for much of the gains.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 rose 0.9 per cent to 2,488.83 after being down 2.8 per cent at midday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 1.1 per cent to 23,138.82. The Nasdaq composite added 0.4 per cent to 6,579.49.

The downturn that began in October has intensified this month, erasing all of the market’s 2018 gains and nudging the S&P 500 closer to its worst year since 2008.

Stocks are on track for their worst December since 1931.

Improved US sentiment “provided Asia markets with the intraday relief into the end of the week,” said Jingyi Pan of IG in a report. Still, Pan said, “one would likely flinch to call this a bottom yet,” leaving a “mixed picture as we head into the end of the year.”

Profits at major Chinese industrial companies fell in November for the first time in three years amid an economic slowdown and trade tension with Washington. Government data showed profit for companies in steel, construction materials, oil, chemicals and equipment manufacturing declined 1.8 per cent from a year earlier, a reverse from October’s 3.6 per cent gain.

Benchmark US crude jumped USD1.02 to USD45.63 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract plunged USD1.59 on Thursday to close at USD44.61. Brent crude, used to price international oils, gained USD1 to USD53.73 per barrel in London. It fell USD1.97 the previous session to USD52.73.

The dollar declined to 110.58 yen from Thursday’s 111.01 yen. The euro advanced to USD 1.1456 from USD 1.1430.

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