Several Asia-Pacific Markets Rebound in Thin Trade -- 2nd Update

By Gregor Stuart Hunter Features Dow Jones Newswires

Several Asia-Pacific stock markets rebounded from early declines in thin volumes ahead of the holidays as investors mulled the passage of tax-code changes in the U.S.

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But Korea's stock benchmark closed down 1.7% on fresh weakness in Samsung Electronics. The stock's downgrade by Morgan Stanley last month helped fuel a global pullback in technology shares after hefty gains this year, ended 3.4% lower.

There hasn't been much fresh news from Samsung recently, but trade in the stock has been volatile, apparently due to shifts in investor sentiment. Since the downgrade, shares have moved at least 1% in 11 of 19 sessions.

Chinese stocks improved after opening lower, as buyers returned after recent weakness in the market. The large-cap CSI 300 was up 1%. The reversal helped Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index, which was up 0.6% led by gains for materials and energy stocks.

U.S. tax reforms should boost growth and indirectly contribute to greater demand for goods and services produced in Asia, said Jonathan Garrick, who manages the $63 million Neutron Asia Absolute Return Fund.

"It's a huge positive for American business and the American economy--whether it puts them in trouble with the deficit is another question--but a strongly growing U.S. economy is for the benefit of the world," he added.

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Mr. Garrick said he had also taken advantage of the recent pullback in tech-sector stocks to buy into gaming companies.

Other markets in the region were more muted, with stock benchmarks in Japan, Australia and Taiwan ending slightly lower and India's benchmark essentially flat. The Bank of Japan's latest policy statement, which maintained its main policy stances, didn't move markets.

Indonesia's JSX index rebounded 1% after Fitch Thursday morning raised the country's credit rating to BBB, one notch above the lowest investment-level grade of BBB- that had been assigned since December 2011. The market's was also bouncing after dropping 0.9% on Wednesday, its biggest drop in four months.

In the foreign exchange market, the British pound steadied after weakening earlier following the resignation of Damian Green, a senior minister in Theresa May's cabinet. He quit after a parliamentary investigation found he made misleading statements about pornography found on his office computer.

Oil futures were down slightly after Wednesday's gains. Bitcoin was around $16,900, near the high end of its trading range in Asia after high volatility on Wednesday.

Write to Gregor Stuart Hunter at gregor.hunter@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

December 21, 2017 02:11 ET (07:11 GMT)