Hong Kong shares hit seven-year high

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Last Updated at 02 Feb 2018, 06:45 GMT Nikkei 225 one month chart
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Hang Seng Image copyright AFP

Hong Kong shares surged to seven-year highs on Thursday as mainland Chinese investors poured money into the market via the new stock connect trading link.

The Hang Seng index closed up 2.7% at 26,944.39, its highest closing level since January 2008.

The surge in interest was triggered by Beijing's move last month to let mutual funds invest in Hong Kong through the connect plan.

The Shanghai Composite ended down 0.9%.

The mainland index closed at 3,957.53 as investors rushed to buy relatively cheaper Hong Kong shares.

Chinese investors had used the entire 10.5bn yuan ($1.69bn) daily investment quota for buying Hong Kong stocks under the Shanghai-Hong Kong Stock Connect scheme for a second day.

Rest of Asia

Shares in the rest of Asia were mixed despite a rise in US markets on Wednesday.

Investor sentiment remained cautious following the latest committee minutes from the Federal Reserve, which showed the central bank was split over when to raise interest rates.

Japan's Nikkei 225 closed up 0.75% at 19,937.72, edging closer to the key threshold of 20,000 which was last seen in 2000.

Analysts said the psychologically important level was likely to be hit soon.

Shares in Asia's biggest clothing retailer, Japan's Fast Retailing, closed up nearly 2% after it raised its annual profit forecast by 20% on Thursday.

The owner of Uniqlo, which has been expanding aggressively overseas, said its net income would be 120bn yen ($998m) for the year ending in August, up from its previous forecast of 100bn yen.

The company's profits were boosted by sales outside Japan.

In Australia, the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index closed down 0.48% at 5,932.20 as a result of falling oil prices, which analysts said would affect the energy sector.

US-based oil and gas giant, Apache, said it was selling its Australian operations for $2.1bn (£1.4bn) as it shifts its focus back to North America.

"Following the sale of our Australian assets, about 70% of Apache's production will come from North America onshore," said the firm's chief executive, John Christmann.

South Korea's benchmark Kospi index closed down 0.02% at 2,058.87.

After a surprise cut in March, South Korea's central bank said on Thursday it would hold its interest rates steady.

The decision was not unanimous, however, and analysts suggested that the bank's easing cycle was not over.

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