Business

Asia's markets give up earlier gains made on Fed comments

US Fed

Markets in Asia surrendered early gains to post a largely negative finish to March.

Comments from Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen about proceeding cautiously on interest rates had given markets a boost for a second day.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 spent much of the day in positive territory. However it later closed down 0.71% at 16,758.

Shares in Sharp lost 4.5% after Taiwan's Foxconn announced an agreement to buy the Japanese firm.

Foxconn said the deal was worth 389bn yen ($3.5bn; £2.4bn) and would give it a 66% stake in Sharp.

Takata Corp denied a report that the cost of a global recall of faulty airbags could be as much as 2.7 trillion yen ($24bn; £16.7bn).

Its shares lost as much as 20% on Wednesday after the report by Bloomberg news was published. But shares rebounded 6% on Thursday.

Meanwhile, South Korea's benchmark Kospi index started in positive territory, but finished the session down 0.3% to 1,995.85.

Official data released earlier showed industrial production in Asia's fourth largest economy had increased by 3.3% from a month earlier, marking the biggest monthly increase since late 2014.

Elsewhere in Asia

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Image caption Reports say billionaire Wang Jianlin has privatisation plans for Wanda Commercial

In China, markets also opened in positive territory but lost gains later, in line with the much of the region.

Some of the country's largest banks reported lacklustre earnings growth late on Wednesday.

Profits for the Industrial & Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) and China Construction Bank both grew at less than half a percent. Industry-wide, nonperforming loans rose to 1.67% of total loans last year, up from the previous year.

One bright spot in Hong Kong was a hike in shares of Dalian Wanda's Hong Kong property arm, Wanda Commercial. Reports of billionaire Wang Jianlin's privatisation plans for the firm saw its shares rise by as much as 20%.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng index closed down 0.13% to 20,776.70, while the Shanghai Composite finished 0.1% higher at 3,003.92.

Australia was the only major index in the region to see March out on a positive note.

Sydney's benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index finished the session up 1.45% at 5,082.8 points, lifted by banking and mining shares.

Westpac Bank was one of the best performers, gaining 1.5%.

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