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27 Jan 2021 | 11:01

Asia report: Markets mixed as IMF upgrades global forecast

(Sharecast News) - Markets in Asia closed in a mixed state on Wednesday, as investors digested the latest global outlook from the International Monetary Fund, as well as fresh economic data out of China and Australia. In Japan, the Nikkei 225 was up 0.31% at 28,635.21, as the yen weakened 0.13% against the dollar to last trade at JPY 103.75.

Automation specialist Fanuc was up 2.39%, while among the benchmark's other major components, fashion firm Fast Retailing was down 1.05% and technology conglomerate SoftBank Group was 0.82% weaker.

The broader Topix index advanced 0.65% by the end of trading in Tokyo, closing at 1,860.07.

On the mainland, the Shanghai Composite managed gains of 0.11% to 3,573.34, and the smaller, technology-heavy Shenzhen Composite was 0.28% firmer at 2,420.92.

China's National Bureau of Statistics said during the day that the country's industrial profits were 4.1% higher year-on-year on 2020.

For December specifically, industrial profits rocketed 20.1% over the prior year.

South Korea's Kospi was down 0.57% at 3,122.56, while the Hang Seng Index in Hong Kong lost 0.32% to 29,297.53.

The blue-chip technology stocks were weaker in Seoul, with Samsung Electronics down 1.27% and SK Hynix falling 0.39%.

Investors began the day poring through the latest World Economic Outlook from the IMF, with the fund not predicting the global economy will grow 5.5% in 2021.

That was 0.3 percentage points higher than its previous forecast in October.

"Much now depends on the outcome of this race between a mutating virus and vaccines to end the pandemic, and on the ability of policies to provide effective support until that happens," said the IMF's chief economist Gita Gopinath.

Oil prices were higher at the end of the Asian day, with Brent crude last up 0.75% to $56.33 per barrel and West Texas Intermediate rising 0.68% to $52.97.

In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 returned from the Australia Day holiday to fall 0.65% to 6,780.60, as the country's Bureau of Statistics said the consumer price index was 0.9% quarter-on-quarter in December.

Across the Tasman Sea, New Zealand's S&P/NZX 50 was ahead 0.38% at 13,374.00, as specialist dairy exporter A2 Milk advanced 3.88%.

The down under dollars were both weaker against the greenback, with the Aussie last off 0.26% at AUD 1.2940, and the Kiwi retreating 0.09% to NZD 1.3826.
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