Asian markets make strong gains, with the exception of China

Asian equities Wednesday largely built on gains in the U.S. and Europe the day before, but Chinese stocks continued to lag behind on concerns about trade and the countrys economy.

Equities there started higher, but the selling resumed by midmorning, led by small-caps as they extended Tuesdays selloff.

Indexes in Shenzhen, where many smaller firms and tech-related companies are listed, fell as much as 3% Tuesday following the U.S. ban on American companies selling products to Chinese telecom-equipment maker ZTE
0763, -1.92%
The move also hit tech-related shares in other Asian markets Tuesday.

The Shenzhen indexes fell a further 1% Wednesday morning.

As Chinese big-caps logged smaller declines, the Shanghai Composite
SHCOMP, +0.21%
was on track to post a fifth straight drop. It logged an 11-month closing low Tuesday.

Sean Quek, head of equity research at OCBC Bank, highlighted ongoing trade tensions and liquidity concerns. He said the Chinese governments crackdown on shadow banking has led to higher borrowing costs for some mainland companies.

There are some interest-rate concerns in Hong Kong
HSI, +0.56%
, where stocks have also lagged behind in recent days as the local dollar there hit the weak end of its trading band against the U.S. dollar. Thats prompted currency-market intervention by the citys de facto central bank.

A heavy lineup of initial public offerings there is looming next week, said Ivan Ip, a stock strategist at UOB Kay Hian in Hong Kong. That could sap broader market liquidity and lead to a possible increase in short-term interest rates, he said.

Financials were bright spot in Chinese stocks Wednesday, with large companies seeing near 0.5% stock gains after the Peoples Bank of China cut banks reserve requirements.

While the move will free up some 1.3 trillion yuan ($206.8 million), lenders must use some two-thirds of that money to pay off short-term debts owed to the central bank. That will limit the cuts economic and market impacts, analysts at Mizuho Bank said in a note to clients.

The weakness in China came as indexes in trade-dependent Japan
NIK, +1.43%
, South Korea
SEU, +0.85%
and Singapore rose at least 1% Wednesday. Helping that were additional indications of easing tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

Softness in the yen
USDJPY, +0.34%
helped boost Japanese stocks while Koreas Kospi
SEU, +0.85%
was aided by a 2.6% jump in heavyweight Samsung Electronics
005930, +2.60%
following strong gains in U.S. tech stocks Tuesday.

Advances in other Asian stock markets were much more modest, with indexes up no more than 0.5%.

Geopolitical events have recently sort of muffled strong earnings growth in Asian equities, said Kerry Craig, global market strategist at J.P. Morgan Asset Management. Fundamentals for the region are still good, he said, with valuations for the MSCI Asia Pacific index, excluding Japan, trading near its 15-year historical average.

In commodities, oil moved higher in Asian trading after industry-group data showed U.S. crude and gasoline inventories fell more last week than what analysts expect will be reported by the government Wednesday. Futures
CLK8, +0.87%
were recently up 0.5%.

Joanne Chiu contributed to this article.

Related Topics Asia Markets China Japan Australia Singapore Foreign Investment

Quote References 0763 -0.50 -1.92% SHCOMP +6.31 +0.21% HSI +168.28 +0.56% NIK +312.86 +1.43% SEU +20.87 +0.85% USDJPY +0.37 +0.34% 005930 +65,000.00 +2.60% CLK8 +0.58 +0.87% Show all references
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