Asian shares end mixed; Tokyo extends losing streak to 4 sessions
Hong Kong: Asian stock markets ended mixed Friday, with Tokyo shares falling for a fourth straight day on a return of fears about European sovereign debt problems, while a firmer yen weighed on Japanese exporters.
Japan's Nikkei Stock Average fell 0.8 percent, China's Shanghai Composite rose 0.2 percent and South Korea's Kospi ended flat.
Taiwan's Taiex climbed 0.9 percent, finishing higher for the first time in four days. The advance came on reports that a Taiwanese committee looking into whether to reinstate a tax on capital gains favors exempting foreign institutional investors.
Trading volumes were modest, with markets in Australia, Hong Kong, India and Singapore among those closed for the Good Friday holiday. Investors were also cautious ahead of the US non-farm payrolls data for March later in the day, although US markets are also due to be closed for Good Friday. A MarketWatch poll estimates the addition of 210,000 jobs in March.
Japan's Nikkei lost 3.9 percent during the week, followed by a 2.9 percent decline for the Taiwanese benchmark. The Shanghai Composite and the Kospi rose 1.9 percent and 0.7 percent, respectively.
In Friday's trading, gains for some property developers, brokerages and consumer stocks provided support to the Chinese markets, which had posted solid gains Thursday after regulators increased the investment quota for foreign institutional investors.
"We think this move is intended to provide support to the stock market, which has been dragged by investors' concerns about a slowing economy, continued tightening in the property market and weak corporate profits," Credit Suisse analysts wrote in a report.
Shares of Gemdale Corp. rose 0.5 percent and Cinda Real Estate rose 1.4 percent, while Citic Securities Co. added 1.3 percent and Chongqing Brewery gained 1.7 percent in Shanghai.
But some state-owned banks extended losses following Premier Wen Jiabao's remarks earlier this week that the nation's state-controlled lenders earned profit "too easily" and urged a break-up of their virtual monopoly.
Shares of China Construction Bank fell 1.3 percent and Industrial & Commercial Bank of China gave up 0.2 percent.
Japanese exporters declined as the dollar slipped versus the yen, with Sony Corp. dropping 2 percent, Honda Motor shedding 1.8 percent and Nissan Motor declining 1.5 percent.
Shares of Toshiba fell 1.1 percent in Tokyo and SK Hynix dropped 2.0 percent in Seoul after a Nikkei business daily reported Thursday they would make a joint bid for bankrupt Japanese chip maker Elpida Memory Inc.
Shares of Japan's Kobe Steel fell 3.1 percent after the company doubled its loss forecast for the fiscal year that ended last month. Other steel makers were also under pressure, with JFE Holdings Inc. dropping 1.6 percent, and Nippon Steel Corp. losing 2.3 percent.
On the upside, Kansai Electric Power Co. rose 2.8 percent after a Nikkei business news report that the government would likely approve the resumption of operations at Kansai's Oi nuclear power plant.
Astellas Pharma Inc. rose 3.2 percent after the firm reported that a US advisory committee recommended the Food & Drug Administration approve Astellas' overactive-bladder treatment mirabegron.
Shares of Japanese retail major Seven & I Holdings Co. fell 1.3 percent in the downbeat market, despite a record-high operating profit reported late Thursday by the 7-Eleven convenience store owner.