ASIA MARKETS: Chinese Shares Swing Lower, Led By Financials

By Lucy CraymerFeaturesDow Jones Newswires

Taiwan index hits highest level since 1990

Many major Asia-Pacific stock markets turned lower Thursday, with a decline for the Shanghai Composite led by financial shares.

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The Shanghai Composite Index closed down 0.3%. It had been higher during the session in the wake of MSCI's decision late Tuesday to include China's so-called A-shares in its emerging-markets index. That means funds that track the index will need to put more money into China's stock market.

But fresh worries about financials helped hit the brakes on the post-MSCI good feelings in Chinese stocks, sending them sliding in the last hour of trading. The main index in Shenzhen , where smaller and often more-speculative companies are listed, dropped 1.3%.

The selloff there hit Hong Kong stocks in afternoon trading, leaving the Hang Seng down by 0.1%.

In Japan, the Nikkei flipped lower to close down 0.1%. But Sony (6758.TO) (6758.TO) rose 1.1% and Nintendo (7974.TO) gained 0.5%.

Korea's Samsung (005930.SE) added 1%, helping push the Kospi index up 0.5%. In Taiwan, the tech-heavy Taiwan Taiex rose 0.5%, hitting its best intraday level since 1990.

Australian equities as tracked on the S&P/ASX 200 finished higher by 0.7%. That follows a 1.6% drop on Wednesday, its largest of the year. The index was recently up 0.5% thanks to a nearly 1% increase in beaten-down iron-ore prices.

The "Big Four" banks -- Westpac (WBK) , Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA.AU) , National Australia Bank (NABZY) , and Australia and New Zealand Banking (ANZ.AU) -- finished higher, nearly or fully erasing the accumulated decline of the first three days of the week.

New Zealand's NZX-50 index rose 0.5% as the Reserve Bank of New Zealand opted to leave the cash rate unchanged and retain a largely neutral monetary-policy bias. That was as expected, though there had been some concern that dovishness could emerge, the Bank of New Zealand said.

"But it didn't, which we were pleased to see," the bank added.

The New Zealand dollar rose to session highs after the announcement but has pulled back since, rising 0.3% to 72.45 U.S. cents.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

June 22, 2017 06:44 ET (10:44 GMT)