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Asian shares slide, Shanghai leads

Asian shares slide, Shanghai leads
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First Published: Wed, Jul 29 2009. 12 34 PM IST
Updated: Wed, Jul 29 2009. 12 34 PM IST
Tokyo: Asian shares tumbled from multi-month peaks on Wednesday, in a sell-off led by the Shanghai market, as investors booked in profits ahead of more company earnings.
Japanese shares gained, but stock indices in Australia and Hong Kong fell after strong run-ups in the past two weeks. The MSCI Asia-Pacific index excluding Japan fell 2.6%, flagging after a climb this week to a 10-month high.
In Europe, stock eased after Chinese stocks fell as investors worried banks there may start to restrict lending, and S&P futures signalled a soft start on Wall Street.
Shares in China State Construction Engineering Corp, whose $7.3 billion IPO last week was the world’s largest in a year, jumped 70% at its debut, besting expectations - but also stirring concerns about asset price bubbles.
It was the second big listing in Shanghai since China resumed IPOs last month, and followed on the heels of Sichuan Expressway’s runaway success on Monday.
“Such strong debuts of new listings will become a great boost for forthcoming IPOs, though worries have also strengthened of overall high valuations of the market,” said Qian Qimin, deputy head of research at Shenyin & Wanguo Securities in Shanghai.
BBMG Corp, one of China’s largest building materials manufacturers, also jumped 60% at its debut in Hong Kong..
But the Hang Seng index shed 3% after ending at its highest in nearly 11 months on Tuesday, and the Shanghai Composite Index closed down 5%, its biggest daily loss in 8 months.
In Tokyo, the Nikkei average edged up 0.3% to its highest close in seven weeks, a day after snapping its longest string of consecutive gains since 1988.
“It’s natural that the market takes a breather due to investor fatigue after a nine-day winning streak and caution before earnings reports,” said Fumiyuki Nakanishi, manager at SMBC Friend Securities.
“But foreign investors appear to have a bullish view on the outlook for the stock markets and that’s providing support to blue-chip stocks and a solid floor for the Nikkei.”
Japan’s market was buoyed by high-tech shares such as Tokyo Electron. After the bell Nomura Holdings Inc, its largest brokerage, posted its first profit in six quarters, and Toshiba Corp announced a smaller-than-expected quarterly operating loss thanks to solid chip prices.
Australian shares shed 0.6%, with top investment bank Macquarie Group up on relief that its operations were improving. Shares in BHP Billiton, which agreed with some customers to take a 33 percent price cut for contracted iron ore shipments, fell 1.5%.
The Dow Jones industrial average closed down 0.13% at 9,096.72 on Tuesday. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index fell 0.26% but the Nasdaq Composite Index rose 0.39%.
Weak US consumer confidence in the previous session weighed on Shanghai copper and on oil, which slid below $67 a barrel and extended losses from Tuesday when industry data showed a larger-than-expected rise in crude inventories last week.
Gold made little headway after a sharp drop to its lowest in nearly two weeks on Tuesday. Spot gold stood at $935.60 an ounce, up from the low of $933.70 the previous day.
In the currency markets, the dollar edged up from this year’s trough against a basket of currencies set on Tuesday, while the euro eased 0.3 percent to $1.4122, slipping from this week’s eight-week high.
The auction cast doubt on investor appetite for US government debt and made the market nervous about big auctions of five-year notes on Wednesday and seven-year notes on Thursday.
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First Published: Wed, Jul 29 2009. 12 34 PM IST
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