Asian Shares Mixed In Cautious Trading

Asian stocks ended mixed on Friday despite strong earnings from U.S. companies and dovish signals from the European Central Bank.

The European Central Bank said it would maintain its accommodative policies, including its ultra-low interest rates, until inflation “durably” exceeds its 2 percent inflation target.

Chinese and Hong Kong shares fell after reports emerged that Beijing is planning hefty penalties on Didi Global for listing its shares in the U.S. in June.

China’s Shanghai Composite Index fell 24.34 points, or 0.7 percent, to 3,550.40, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index ended down 401.86 points, or 1.5 percent, at 27,321.98.

Australian markets fluctuated before ending little changed after a survey showed the services sector in the country fell hard into contraction territory in July.

COVID-19 worries also weighed, with an Australian state government declaring an emergency due to a virus outbreak in Sydney.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index inched up 8 points, or 0.1 percent, to 7,394.40, while the broader All Ordinaries Index ended up 12 points, or 0.2 percent, at 7,670.90.

Tech stocks gained ground, with Afterpay, Appen and Xero rising 1-2 percent. Zip advanced 1.4 percent on reports that the buy now, pay later firm is looking to provide users a chance to trade in cryptocurrencies.

Banks ANZ, Commonwealth and Westpac fell around 1 percent each. Casino operator Crown Resorts dropped 2.2 percent after Star Entertainment withdrew its takeover bid.

Gold miner Evolution surged 4.4 percent after successfully completing its institutional placement.

Seoul stocks ended higher for the second straight session on optimism for strong earnings and hopes that central banks will continue their monetary policy support for some more time.

The Kospi crept up 4.21 points, or 0.1 percent, to 3,254.42 as the government extended virus curbs in greater Seoul for another two weeks.

Internet portal giant Naver rallied 2.7 percent and pharmaceutical firm Samsung Biologics rose 1 percent, while leading carmaker Hyundai Motor lost 1.3 percent.

New Zealand shares swung between gains and losses before ending slightly higher for the day. The benchmark NZX 50 Index edged up 15.48 points, 0.1 percent, to 12,736.32.

U.S. stocks rose for a third day running on Thursday, though markets finished off their highs on the back of mixed earnings updates and data showing an unexpected jump in jobless claims.

The Dow inched up 0.1 percent, the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite index gained 0.4 percent and the S&P 500 added 0.2 percent.

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