Asian shares mostly down after losses in New York

(MENAFN- AFP) Asian markets mostly fell Thursday following losses on Wall Street, as minutes from the Federal Reserve's recent policy meeting showed officials are confident the US Economy can withstand stimulus cuts.Tokyo dropped 1.50 percent, or 241.12 points, to 15,880.33 and Tokyo's benchmark Nikkei-225 shed 1.50 percent or 241.12 points to 15,880.33, while the Topix index of all first-section shares slipped 0.73 percent, or 9.48 points, to 1,296.75.The slump added to losses earlier this week as profit-taking set in among investors who watched the Nikkei surge 57 percent last year -- its best performance since 1972.Exporters were mixed, with Toyota off 0.47 percent to 6,270 yen and Canon down 1.95 percent to 3,265 yen. Sony jumped 3.78 percent to 1,894 yen.Sony's rise comes after China this week formally authorised the domestic sale of game consoles made in Shanghai's new free trade zone, potentially opening its lucrative market to the likes of Sony's PlayStation, and offerings from rivals Nintendo and Microsoft.

Nintendo shares, which soared nearly 11.0 percent Wednesday, were down 2.71 percent to 15,420 yen.

In Hong Kong, the benchmark Hang Seng Index fell 0.91 percent or 209.26 points to 22,787.33 on turnover of HK$72.33 billion ($9.33 billion).Industrial & Commercial Bank of China fell 2.0 percent to HK$4.94, China Construction Bank slid 1.77 percent to HK$5.54 while Tencent was down 1.69 percent at HK$493.Chinese shares closed down 0.82 percent as official data showed that China's annual inflation was 2.6 percent in 2013, well within Beijing's 3.5 percent target.The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index shed 16.72 points to 2,027.62 on turnover of 67.6 billion yuan ($11.2 billion).Analysts broadly welcomed the statistics, saying they pointed to a stable outlook for prices and a reduced chance of monetary tightening.The Seoul index also fell on Thursday, shedding 0.66 percent, or 12.85 points, to close at 1,946.11.The Bank of Korea kept its benchmark interest rate steady at 2.5 percent and maintained the forecast it made three months earlier that the economy will grow 3.8 percent this year.Bucking the trend was Sydney, which rose 0.16 percent -- or 8.4 points -- to 5,324.40, despite news that Moody's had become the second agency to cut Australian carrier Qantas's debt rating to junk status after it announced a profit warning last month.Qantas climbed 2.27 percent even after Moody's said it now rates the airline Ba2 following Standard and Poor's decision last month to assign it BB+ status.In afternoon Tokyo currency trade the dollar bought 104.85 yen, against 104.82 yen late in New York but still down from rates slightly above 105 yen in Tokyo Wednesday.The euro held firm at $1.3575 and 142.33 yen, compared with $1.3574 and 142.26 yen in the United States.On oil markets New York's main contract, West Texas Intermediate for February delivery, was up 38 cents at $92.71. Brent North Sea crude for February rose 36 cents to $107.42.Gold fetched $1,226.90 at 0815 GMT compared with $1,225.50 late Wednesday.In other markets:-- Taipei fell 0.48 percent, or 41.33 points, to 8,514.68.TSMC slid 2.88 percent to Tw$101.0 while Hon Hai rose 1.26 percent to Tw$80.5.-- Wellington rose 35.07 points or 0.73 percent to 4,814.87.Fletcher Building was up 2.14 percent at NZ$8.61 and Fonterra Shareholders' Fund was down 1.71 percent at NZ$5.76 on news it will face a lawsuit over a botulism scare last year.-- Manila was 0.82 percent, or 48.97 points, lower at 5,937.51.Metropolitan Bank plunged 5.01 percent to 73.90 pesos while International Container Terminal Services fell 2.51 percent to 97.00 pesos.


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