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Asian traders cautious after being unnerved by China sell-off

By AFP
media The sharp sell-off in Shanghai on Thursday spooked investors AFP

Asian investors moved warily on Friday after a sharp sell-off in Shanghai the previous day fuelled concerns of fresh turmoil in China's markets.

The benchmark composite index plunged more than two percent in a late afternoon sell-off Thursday as mainland traders were spooked by a government crackdown on risky dealing and worries about sky-high valuations.

Analysts also pointed out that there was no intervention by state-backed firms to support key stocks, indicating authorities are willing to see prices fall as they look to cool the market.

The losses rekindled memories of the collapse in mainland stocks in summer 2015 and the following January, which sparked a global retreat and was fuelled partly by fears values had risen too sharply -- the market had surged 150 percent in a year on speculative trading.

There is concern among leaders that risk-taking is becoming a problem again and they are looking to wind it in.

Earlier this week authorities warned against the huge gains in top-performing stock, liquor firm Kweichow Moutai, saying it had risen too fast.

The call-out "worried investors that regulators are serious about clamping down on the speculative aspects of the economy" said from Greg McKenna, chief market strategist at AxiTrader.

But he added: "I'm surprised there is a surprise because anyone who took note of President Xi (Jinping's) recent address at the National Congress would know that the party and the nation have primacy over the markets in his next five-year plan."

In early exchanges the Shanghai market was down a further 0.5 percent.

But Hong Kong -- which was dragged down one percent Thursday by the China sell-off and on profit-taking from a five-day rally -- was up 0.3 percent.

Tokyo ended the morning session 0.3 percent lower as it reopened after a one-day holiday, while Sydney was 0.4 percent off and Seoul was flat.

But Singapore added 0.2 percent and Wellington put on 0.3 percent.

US markets were closed for Thanksgiving and Europe provided a tepid lead.

On forex markets the euro extended gains against the dollar after data showed the eurozone economy continued to improve while jobs creation came in at its fastest pace in 17 years.

Also, confidence was boosted after the head of the German opposition suggested he would be "be open to talks" with Chancellor Angela Merkel on forming a coalition government and avert months of turmoil in Europe's biggest economy.

- Key figures around 0230 GMT -

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: DOWN 0.3 percent at 22,446.13 (break)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng: UP 0.3 percent at 29,784.17

Shanghai - Composite: DOWN 0.5 percent at 3,334.32

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.1853 from $1.1848

Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.3303 from $1.3304

Dollar/yen: UP at 111.34 yen from 111.21 yen

Oil - West Texas Intermediate: UP 37 cents at $58.39

Oil - Brent North Sea: DOWN 19 cents at $63.36 per barrel

London - FTSE 100: FLAT at 7,417.24 (close)

New York - DOW: Closed for a public holiday

 
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