Asian Shares Mixed In Thin Holiday Trade

Asian stocks ended mixed on Thursday, with many markets including South Korea, Taiwan and China closed for the Lunar New Year holidays. The Japanese markets were also shuttered in observance of National Foundation Day.

U.S. stimulus hopes offered some support after a Labor Department report showed tame consumer price inflation in January and Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said that the U.S. is still “very far” from a strong labor market.

Australian shares fluctuated before finishing little changed. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index ended marginally lower at 6,850.10, while the broader All Ordinaries index closed 0.2 percent lower at 7,122.10.

Mining heavyweights BHP and Rio Tinto rose about 1 percent, while gold miner Newcrest Mining surged 4 percent and Northern Star Resources advanced 1.7 percent.

Newcrest reported an underlying profit for the half-year period that almost doubled from last year. The company also affirmed its full-year gold as well as copper forecast.

Telecom company Telstra rallied 2.5 percent despite weak fiscal half-year results.

Energy stocks ended broadly lower as oil prices gave up some of their recent gains on dollar strength and profit taking.

Wealth manager AMP plunged 11 percent after it reported a nearly 33 percent slump in underlying net profit for the full year and said it will not pay a final dividend.

New Zealand shares ended lower amid rising bond yields and valuation concerns. The benchmark NZX-50 Index dropped 68.90 points, or 0.5 percent, to 12,761.13, extending losses for the third straight session. Meridian Energy shares slumped 4.4 percent and A2 Milk Company lost 1.1 percent.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index climbed 0.5 percent to 30,173.57, while India’s Sensex rose 0.4 percent.

Overnight, U.S. stocks hit record intraday highs before ending on a mixed note as investors cheered upbeat earnings news and President Joe Biden signaled support for keeping income thresholds for $1,400 stimulus checks.

Meanwhile, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell appeared to express support for more stimulus, saying maintaining “patiently accommodative monetary policy” will be important to returning to a strong labor market and more needs to be done.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average edged up 0.2 percent, while the S&P 500 finished marginally lower and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite shed 0.3 percent.

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