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15 Jan 2021 | 11:15

Asia report: Markets mixed as investors digest Biden's package

(Sharecast News) - Markets in Asia closed in a mixed state on Friday, as US president Donald Trump blacklisted another Chinese technology company, while investors digested the president-elect Joe Biden's stimulus package. In Japan, the Nikkei 225 was down 0.61% at 28,519.18, as the yen strengthened 0.12% against the dollar to last trade at JPY 103.68.

Of the major components on the benchmark index, automation specialist Fanuc was down 0.54%, fashion firm Fast Retailing was off 2.85%, and technology conglomerate SoftBank Group was 0.6% weaker.

The broader Topix index was off 0.89% by the end of trading in Tokyo, closing at 1,856.61.

On the mainland, the Shanghai Composite eked out gains of 0.01% to 3,566.38, and the smaller, technology-heavy Shenzhen Composite was 0.27% firmer at 2,366.86.

South Korea's Kospi was off 2.03% at 3,085.90, while the Hang Seng Index was 0.27% firmer at 28,573.86.

Shares in Chinese smartphone giant Xiaomi plummeted 10.26% in the special administrative region, after the Trump administration in Washington added the firm to its blacklist of companies with alleged ties to the military.

China oil company CNOOC, meanwhile, was 1.1% weaker, after the US Commerce Department added it to its so-called entity list overnight, preventing it from dealing with American firms.

The blue-chip technology stocks were weaker in Seoul, with Samsung Electronics down 1.9% and SK Hynix losing 2.3%.

Early in the Asian day, US president-elect Joe Biden took the wraps off his $1.9trn 'American Rescue Plan'.

The package was intended to underpin American companies and families amid the Covid-19 crisis, and would include unemployment support as well as stimulus cheques.

"Most of what President-elect Joe Biden announced yesterday, with respect to a fresh fiscal aid package for the US economy, was pretty much in line with expectations, $1.9trn worth of support in a variety of areas, specifically in the form of $350bn in state aid, an increase in the minimum wage, and a further $1,400 in stimulus payments to US workers," said CMC Markets chief market analyst Michael Hewson.

"There was little in the way of detail about future longer term spending commitments on infrastructure and other types of investment including education, energy and green investment, however this is likely to come once he has got his feet under that desk in the Oval office."

Oil prices were lower as the region entered the weekend, with Brent crude last down 1.84% at $55.38 per barrel, and West Texas Intermediate losing 1.61% to $52.71.

In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 was flat, rising just 0.1 points to 6,715.40, while across the Tasman Sea, New Zealand's S&P/NZX 50 lost 0.7% to 13,024.69.

The down under dollars were both weaker against the greenback, with the Aussie last off 0.44% at AUD 1.2912, and the Kiwi retreating 0.54% to NZD 1.3920.
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