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08 Feb 2021 | 10:56

Asia report: Most markets higher, China tech giants in focus

(Sharecast News) - Most markets in Asia closed in positive territory on Monday, with Chinese technology giants and Korean carmakers in focus. In Japan, the Nikkei 225 was up 2.12% at 29,388.50, as the yen weakened 0.23% against the dollar to last trade at JPY 105.63.

Of the major components on the benchmark index, automation specialist Fanuc was up 1.64%, fashion firm Fast Retailing added 1.54%, and technology conglomerate SoftBank Group was 4.45% higher.

The broader Topix index finished 1.75% firmer by the end of trading in Tokyo, settling at 1,923.95.

On the mainland, the Shanghai Composite advanced 1.03% to 3,532.45, and the smaller, technology-heavy Shenzhen Composite was 1.21% higher at 2,360.78.

South Korea's Kospi was down 0.94% at 3,091.24, while the Hang Seng Index in Hong Kong managed gains of 0.11% to 29,319.47.

Shares in China-based technology plays were mixed in the special administrative region, with Meituan up 1.25% and Tencent adding 0.48%, while Alibaba lost 0.62% and JD.com was off 0.6%.

The moves came after the State Administration for Market Regulation in Beijing announced new rules that were likely to affect internet services in China.

Further undermining sentiment in the sector, regulators also fined online discount retailer Vipshop CNY 3m for anti-competitive behaviour.

The blue-chip technology stocks were weaker in Seoul, with Samsung Electronics down 0.6% and SK Hynix down 1.96%.

Car manufacturer Kia Motors plummeted 14.98% and its largest shareholder Hyundai Motor was 6.21% weaker, after both companies released regulatory updates confirming they were not in discussions with Apple on developing autonomous vehicles.

The two companies surged last week, amid swirling rumours that Kia was close to signing a deal with the California-based consumer technology giant to develop an autonomous, electric Apple-branded car.

"US stocks managed to post their best week since last November in the wake of Friday's numbers, and this has translated into a similarly positive Asia session, with the Nikkei 225 posting its best daily close since the end of 1990," said CMC Markets chief market analyst Michael Hewson.

Oil prices were higher at the end of the Asian day, with Brent crude last up 1.15% at $60.02 per barrel, and West Texas Intermediate 1.11% firmer at $57.48.

"Crude oil prices also appear to be getting a lift from all of this recovery optimism, however it is hard to escape the elephant in the room which is that these higher prices could well act as a brake on consumer demand, prompting demand destruction, and snuffing out any nascent recovery," Michael Hewson said.

"Of course, with these higher prices, the consensus and discipline amongst OPEC+ members could well start to fracture as some countries break ranks to ramp up production in order to take advantage of this move higher."

In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.59% to 6,880.70, while across the Tasman Sea, markets were closed for the Waitangi Day national holiday.

Both of the down under dollars were weaker against the greenback, with the Aussie last 0.19% weaker at AUD 1.3064, and the Kiwi retreating 0.28% to NZD 1.3919.
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