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04 Feb 2021 | 10:34

Asia report: Markets close lower, Australian exports grow

(Sharecast News) - Markets in Asia closed lower across the region on Thursday, as investors watched for a potential deal between Apple and two Korean carmakers, while fresh data out of Australia showed an increase in exports. In Japan, the Nikkei 225 was down 1.06% at 28,341.95, as the yen weakened 0.2% against the dollar to last trade at JPY 105.24.

Technology giant SoftBank Group managed gains of 0.73%, while among the benchmark's other major components, robotics specialist Fanuc was down 3.26% and Uniqlo owner Fast Retailing lost 1.28%.

The broader Topix index was off 0.32% by the end of trading in Tokyo, closing at 1,865.12.

On the mainland, the Shanghai Composite was off 0.44% at 3,501.86, and the smaller, technology-centric Shenzhen Composite was 1.16% weaker at 2,353.27.

According to CMC Markets analyst David Madden, much of the losses in Asia were down to tighter liquidity conditions in China.

"Short-term borrowing costs in the country ticked up, so that led to fears the Beijing administration are trying to rein in credit, possibly to curb growth in property and stock prices," Madden said.

South Korea's Kospi was 1.35% lower at 3,087.55, while the Hang Seng Index in Hong Kong slipped 0.66% to 29,113.50.

The blue-chip technology stocks were on the back foot in Seoul, with Samsung Electronics down 2.48% and SK Hynix sliding 3.85%.

Shares in Korean carmaker Kia Motors were up 0.41%, and those in its majority shareholder Hyundai Motor rose 1.22%, amid swirling rumours of a tie-up with California-based consumer technology giant Apple.

According to CNBC, Apple is close to signing a deal with Hyundai-Kia to manufacture an autonomous electric vehicle at the Kia assembly plant in the US state of Georgia, which will be Apple-branded.

Oil prices were higher as the region went to bed, with Brent crude last up 0.55% at $58.78, and West Texas Intermediate ahead 0.69% at $56.07 per barrel.

In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 was down 0.87% at 6,765.50, as investors digested the latest export data out of Canberra.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, seasonally-adjusted exports of goods and services were up 3% month-on-month in December.

Across the Tasman Sea, New Zealand's S&P/NZX 50 lost 0.76% to 12,992.14, as government bond yields there rose even further.

The two-year swap rate was at 0.35% and the 10-year swap was 1.42%, which was more than 15 basis points higher than at close of business on Wednesday.

Bond yields move inversely to prices.

The down under dollars were a mixed affair against the greenback, with the Aussie last 0.11% stronger at AUD 1.3110, while the Kiwi weakened 0.23% to NZD 1.3903.
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