Nikkei leads shares to another seven-year high

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Nikkei 225 Index

Last Updated at 21 Sep 2017, 06:45 GMT Nikkei 225 twelve month chart
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20347.48 +

Asian shares traded mixed on Thursday, as Japanese stocks raced to a new seven-year high on speculation of a sales tax delay.

News that six global banks were fined on Wednesday £2.6bn by regulators for currency-rigging dented investor sentiment elsewhere.

But investors in Japan shrugged off government data that painted a mixed picture of the economy.

The Nikkei was up 1% to 17,392.79 - the highest closing level since June 2007.

The Reuters Tankan poll showed that Japanese manufacturers had grown more confident for the first time in three months, but expected conditions to worsen again, despite moves by the Bank of Japan to boost the economy.

Meanwhile, core machinery orders unexpectedly rose 2.9% in September and companies forecast only a modest decline in orders in the fourth quarter, indicating that business investment would pick up.

However, another Reuters poll showed that 72% of companies said that the economy was too weak to handle a sales tax increase as scheduled.

Wison woes

In Hong Kong, shares closed up 0.3% or 81.76 points, with the Hang Seng Index ending the Thursday session at 24,019.94.

Shares of PetroChina supplier Wison Engineering plunged 58% at the close, after it said a bribery charge had been filed against the company and its chairman.

Wison shares had resumed trading on Thursday, having been suspended since 13 September because of an investigation.

Meanwhile, shares in China's largest social network, Tencent, recovered from earlier losses to close higher by 0.23% at HK$129.50 ($16.70; £10.52) apiece.

Tencent had missed its earnings forecasts and its third-quarter revenue grew at its slowest rate in seven years.

On the mainland, the Shanghai Composite closed 0.36% lower at 2,485.61 on a slew of economic data out of China that showed more weakness in the economy.

China's industrial output rose 7.7% in October from a year ago, while retail sales grew 11.5% in the same period. Economists were expecting growth of 8% and 11.6% respectively.

Another important economic indicator - fixed asset investment - fell to 15.9% in October from 16.1% in September.

Westpac blow

In Australia, shares fell for a fourth consecutive session on Thursday, dragged down by the resources sector.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index was down 0.5% at 5,434.

Westpac shares were down 1.1% after the bank announced that its chief executive, Gail Kelly, would retire in February.

She will be replaced by the group's head of financial services, Brian Hartzer.

South Korean shares were down 0.3%, with the Kospi at 1,960.51 points, after the Bank of Korea left interest rates on hold at 2%.

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