Asian Shares Mixed In Cautious Trade

Asian stocks ended Wednesday’s session on a mixed note as rising Treasury yields offset easing concerns over the banking sector.

Chinese shares fluctuated before ending slightly lower. The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index slipped 0.2 percent to 3,240.06.

Hong Kong markets led regional gains after Alibaba Group announced a major restructuring. While shares of the e-commerce giant jumped 12.2 percent, the benchmark Hang Seng Index hit a more than three-week high before settling 2.1 percent higher at 20,192.40.

Alibaba unveiled plans to split its business into six separate units, each with their own leadership and scope for public listing. Tencent Holdings and Baidu Inc. ended up 1.8 percent and 1.9 percent, respectively.

Japanese shares closed sharply higher near three-week highs, aided by an over 6 percent spike by heavyweight Softbank Group Corp, which owns a 13.5 percent stake in Alibaba.

The Nikkei 225 Index jumped 1.3 percent to 27,883.78, marking its highest level since March 10 and the biggest single-day gain since March 22. The broader Topix settled 1.5 percent higher at 1,995.48.

Oil explorers Japan Petroleum and Inpex Corp. rose 2-3 percent as oil extended gains for a third consecutive session on industry data showing a big draw in U.S. crude stockpiles.

Fujitec soared 7.3 percent after its new board voted to oust Chairman Takakazu Uchiyama in another win for activist shareholder Oasis Management.

Seoul stocks rose for a second consecutive session, led by auto and battery makers. The Kospi gained 0.4 percent to finish at 2,443.92.

Australian markets ended slightly higher after data showed inflation slowed to an eight-month low in February and retail sales rose only modestly in the month, strengthening investor hopes for a pause by the Reserve Bank of Australia in its policy meeting next week.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index rose 0.2 percent, to 7,050.30 as firmer commodity prices lifted mining and energy stocks. The broader All Ordinaries Index closed 0.2 percent higher at 7,236.

Across the Tasman, New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 Index slipped 0.3 percent to 11,736.75.

Sky Network Television dropped 1.2 percent after announcing job cuts amid a broader restructuring.

U.S. stocks ended Tuesday’s lackluster session lower as tech stocks came under selling pressure for a second day running, taking cues from rising bond yields.

Banks also fell as three top regulators favored more stringent rules for banks with more than $100 billion in assets.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite shed half a percent, the Dow slipped 0.1 percent and the S&P 500 eased 0.2 percent.

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