Nikkei hits fresh 15-year high amid mixed trade in Asia

Mainland indices choppy

China’s Shanghai Composite index erased early losses to rebound 2.2 percent, hitting a four-week high, on the back of rallying financial and property majors.

Banking stocks like China Construction Bank, Agricultural Bank of China and Bank of China pulled in more than 2 percent gains, respectively. Brokerages reversed earlier steep losses, with Citic Securities and Haitong Securities advancing more than 4 percent each. Property majors also contributed to the rally; China Merchants Property and Poly Real Estate elevated 4.4 and 5.5 percent, respectively.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index snapped a four-session losing streak with gains of 0.5 percent. Focus remained on HSBC, which finished 0.2 percent lower, after CEO Stuart Gulliver and Chairman Douglas Flint apologized for the bank’s shortcomings overnight.

Gaming stocks remained dismal on news that the Macau government plans to impose a limit to the number of mainland tourists that visit the city; Sands China receded 3 and Melco Crown fell 2.7 percent. SJM Holdings eased 0.4 percent after posting a 12.7 percent drop in its 2014 net profit.

Kospi ticks up 0.1%

South Korea’s Kospi index settled at a three-month low late Thursday. For the day, markets were focused on news that retailer Shinsegae is interesting in acquiring a majority stake in Kumho Industrial, which holds a 30.1 percent stake in the country’s second-largest flagship carrier Asiana Airlines. Shares of Shinsegae pared gains to ease 0.3 percent, while Kumho Industrial charged up 15 percent.

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Rest of Asia

Across Asia, corporate earnings were a key theme. Late on Thursday Singapore-listed commodities trader Noble Group unexpectedly reported its first quarterly loss in three years due to asset write-downs.

Iceberg Research issued a fresh report early Thursday, claiming that the Hong Kong-based Noble Group overstated the value of commodities it holds by at least $ 3.8 billion, which the latter has refuted. Since Iceberg’s first negative report on Febuary 15, shares of the commodities trader have been in a tailspin, falling a combined 13 percent in the first two sessions following the allegations. On early Thursday, Noble Group’s shares were halted ahead of its fourth-quarter results.

The broader Straits Times index, meanwhile, slipped 0.4 percent.

Nikkei Futures

nikkeifutures.org@imediaone.com

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