ASIA MARKETS: Weakness Persists For China Stocks, While Other Asian Markets Inch Up

By Ese Erheriene Features Dow Jones Newswires

Asian stocks largely stabilized by midday Friday, though Chinese equities fell further after Thursday's slump.

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The Shanghai Composite Index ended the first half of the trading day down 0.6%, while the Shenzhen Composite Index shed 0.5%. The CSI 300, which comprises the biggest stocks on both cities' exchanges, dropped 0.8% after Thursday's 3% skid, the biggest since June 2016.

"We expect to continue to see this [volatile] situation in the near term," said Castor Pang, head of research at Core Pacific-Yamaichi International.

Still, others were more optimistic. Tareck Horchani, head of sales trading at Saxo Capital Markets, said banks he had been talking to were interested in buying call options.

With Chinese economic growth seen remaining strong and corporate earnings there logging double-digit increases, ING economist Iris Pang doesn't see a near-term ceiling for the country's stocks.

The recent weakness in the Chinese bond market and concerns about liquidity aren't indicative of a deeper problem, she said -- investors are simply reallocating money between markets. It's just that "the timing of this makes it look really alarming," Pang added.

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The People's Bank of China on Friday injected a net 20 billion yuan ($3.04 billion) into the country's money markets, versus Thursday's 100 billion yuan. That suggests Beijing isn't worried about a jittery stock market after Thursday's selloff.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index , which slid 1% amid late-Thursday selling as Chinese stocks fell, was recently up 0.3% after earlier rising as much as 0.7%. It was buoyed by insurance stocks, some of which have posted big gains in November.

Elsewhere, Japanese equities were catching up Friday to both the slide in Chinese stocks and the recent weakness in the U.S. dollar, which logged its biggest drop in eight months on Wednesday.

Returning from a holiday on Thursday, Japan's Nikkei Stock Average opened down 0.6% but edged into positive territory by early afternoon. The dollar rose to Yen111.45 from Yen111.20 in early-morning trading; it was at Yen112.15 when Tokyo equities trading ended Wednesday.

In Australia, the country's big lenders slid further on Friday, putting pressure on the S&P/ASX which declined 0.2%. But New Zealand equities continued their rebound from weakness at the start of the month. The NZX 50 rose 0.4% and was in positive territory throughout the day. Index heavyweight Auckland International Airport rose 1.5%.

In oil markets, Nymex oil futures continued to close the gap with global benchmark Brent. The January contract was recently up 0.7% from Wednesday's settlement price -- there was none yesterday because of the Thanksgiving holiday -- at $58.45 a barrel. Brent reversed much of its Thursday gain in early Asian trading, falling 0.3% to $63.37.

Write to Ese Erheriene at ese.erheriene@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

November 24, 2017 01:00 ET (06:00 GMT)