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Asian stocks largely buoyed by offshore gains

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asia stock marketAsian stocks mostly advanced early Friday, tracking a positive lead from Wall Street overnight.   However, trading will likely be light, with markets in Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines closed for public holidays.  

Overnight, US stocks finished near highs, with the Nasdaq Composite at a record on the back of better-than-expected earnings releases and progress towards near-term resolution in the Greece’s debt crisis. The blue-chip Dow and the S&P 500 gained 0.4 and 0.8 percent, respectively.  

Stock markets in the mainland kicked off Friday on a positive note, with a key futures contract on the CSI300 index set for delivery by the close of business finally rising above the level of its benchmark, Reuters reported.  

China’s benchmark Shanghai Composite ticked up 0.2 percent, while the CSI300 index elevated 0.7 percent. The Shenzhen Composite made gains of 1.2 percent.   In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index picked up 0.2 percent amid a rebound in gaming stocks which were heavily sold off in the previous session.  

In Taiwan, chipmaker Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing (TSMC) surged 2.2 percent following better-than-expected results for the second quarter, outpacing the broader index.  

Nikkei adds 0.2 percent   Japan’s Nikkei 225 bounced up to its highest level since June 26 as the yen hovered near its weakest level against the greenback in more than three weeks.  

Underperforming the bourse, Sharp tanked 4 percent after the Nikkei business daily reported early Friday that the electronics company is set to swing to an operating loss in the April-June quarter.  

Toshiba recouped early losses to move up 0.8 percent following news that the company is expecting USD 2.4-3.2 billion in charges related to improper accounting in an expanding probe.
 
Australia’s S&P ASX 200 reversed course to dip into negative territory amid losses in its key banking and resources sectors.   Miners and energy producers were among the biggest laggards; Fortescue Metals retreated 1.6 percent, while Santos and Oil Search shaved off more than 1 percent each as crude oil prices edged up in early Asian trade.  

Oil and gas producer Santos receded more than 1 percent after it said its second-quarter sales revenue fell 19 percent due to falling energy prices.   Financials turned negative, with Westpac and National Australia Bank slipped 0.4 and 0.2 percent, respectively.  

South Korea’s Kospi index pulled back from a two-week high, as markets await the outcome of a shareholder vote on a merger of two Samsung companies.  

Shareholders of Samsung C&T will vote Friday on whether it should be acquired by sister company, Cheil Industries, which is the de facto holding company of Samsung Group. US hedge fund Elliott Associates, Samsung C&T’s largest shareholder, has opposed to the terms of the merger, saying it undervalues the company.  

Shares of both companies trimmed earlier gains to tick up 0.7 and 0.5 percent, respectively. Steelmaker Posco plunged 2.2 percent on news that it is scrapping plans for a USD 12 billion project it had agreed to set up in India a decade ago due to a new law which made it more costly to source iron ore for the plant.  


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