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Asia report: Markets mixed, Aussie banks soar on new credit rules

Fri 25 September 2020 10:29 | A A A

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(Sharecast News) - Markets in Asia finished in a mixed state on Friday, with the property sector in Hong Kong under the cosh, while Australia's financial plays rocketed.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 was up 0.51% at 23,204.62, as the yen remained stable against the dollar, last trading at JPY 105.41.

Automation specialist Fanuc was down 0.35%, while among the benchmark's other major components, fashion firm Fast Retailing added 1.06% and technology conglomerate SoftBank Group was 1.26% firmer.

The broader Topix index was 0.48% firmer by the end of trading in Tokyo, closing at 1,634.23.

On the mainland, the Shanghai Composite was down 0.12% at 3,219.42, and the smaller, technology-heavy Shenzhen Composite was off 0.23% at 2,143.05.

Assets in China were in the spotlight on Friday, after FTSE Russell announced on Thursday that Chinese government bonds would be included in the FTSE World Government Bond Index from October 2021.

South Korea's Kospi was up 0.27% at 2,278.79, while the Hang Seng Index in Hong Kong was 0.32% weaker at 23,235.42.

The moves lower in Hong Kong were led by the property sector, after reports swirled that China Evergrande Group was asking for government support for its restructuring plans, as it faced an impending cash crisis.

Evergrande denied the reports, however, saying the "relevant documents and pictures" being reported were "fabricated and pure defamation".

"The company strongly condemns such acts and has reported the case to the public security authorities," it said in a statement.

Shares in China Evergrande Group ended the session doen 9.46% in the special administrative region.

The blue-chip technology stocks were mixed in Seoul, meanwhile, with Samsung Electronics up 0.17%, while chipmaker SK Hynix lost 1.66%.

"Asia has been taking its cues from the US index futures throughout the week," said Oanda senior Asia-Pacific market analyst Jeffrey Halley.

"It will, of course, only take one negative headline from the US for the dentists of Minnesota to rush for the exit door, dragging Asia down with them.

"The interconnected digital world is a strange place at times."

Oil prices were higher as the region entered the weekend, with Brent crude last up 0.6% at $42.19 per barrel, and West Texas Intermediate rising 0.45% at $40.49.

In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 rose 1.51% to 5,964.90, with the hefty financials subindex soaring 3.71% by end-of-play in Sydney.

That came after federal treasurer Josh Frydenburg announced measures to simplify access to credit for both small businesses and consumers.

"We need our banks to be extending credit, we need the regulation to be streamlined, we need customers to be able to access credit," Frydenburg told local media.

That led to a stellar session for the country's big four banks, with Australia and New Zealand Banking Group up 6.28%, Commonwealth Bank of Australia adding 3.01%, National Australia Bank ahead 6.86%, and Westpac Banking Corporation 7.39% firmer.

Across the Tasman Sea, New Zealand's S&P/NZX 50 added 0.92% to 11,797.08, led higher by fast fashion group Hallenstein Glasson, which rocketed 21.98%.

The company had reported a 4.29% fall in net profit, but declared a dividend of 24 New Zealand cents per share after seeing online sales soar 80% in the second half of its financial year.

Both of the down under dollars were stronger on the greenback, with the Aussie last ahead 0.25% at AUD 1.4154, and the Kiwi advancing 0.41% to NZD 1.5220.

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