Business

Asia shares subdued on Greece worries

Australian shares Image copyright AFP
Image caption Australian shares headed lower as investors focused on company earnings

Asian markets experienced mixed trading on Wednesday, with investors remaining cautious ahead of eurozone meetings over Greece.

Finance ministers meet on Wednesday and EU leaders on Thursday, but officials are already downplaying the chance of a breakthrough in a debt deal for Greece.

Australian shares headed lower, despite a measure of consumer sentiment surging to its highest in 13 months.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 closed down 0.5% at 5,769.1 points.

The Melbourne Institute and Westpac Bank index of consumer sentiment rose by a seasonally adjusted 8% in February, the largest monthly increase since September 2011.

The recent cut in interest rates as well as falling fuel prices boosted consumer confidence.

With company earnings in focus, shares of Commonwealth Bank of Australia fell 0.8% despite announcing a record profit for the first half of the current financial year ending in June.

Japanese markets were closed for a public holiday.

Chinese markets headed in different directions, showing the disconnect between the two main stock markets.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index ended up 0.5% at 3,157.70, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng closed down 0.9% at 24,315.02.

South Korea's Kospi index rose 0.5% to 1,945.7 after data showed import prices falling at the fastest pace since 1999, largely due to lower energy costs.

Import prices were 19.2% lower in January than a year earlier, the steepest drop since March 1999.

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