China stocks end lower after rate cut rally

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Chinese markets reversed gains to close lower, after rallying on the central bank's unexpected move to cut a key lending rate on Wednesday.

The People's Bank of China lowered the required reserve ratio (RRR) for banks by 50 basis points in an attempt to stimulate the slowing economy.

The Shanghai Composite ended down 1.2% at 3,136.53 after surging over 2% earlier in the day.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng index closed up 0.4% to 24,765.49 after jumping 1.5%.

Other Asian markets also headed lower after the European Central Bank moved to tighten Greece's access to funding.

Japan's Nikkei 225 fell 1% to 17,504.62, while South Korea's benchmark Kospi ended down 0.5% to 1,952.84.

Analysts said the ECB was taking a hard-line stance and putting pressure on Greece to decide on a funding programme.

"Overall, we retain the view that an agreement between the Greek government and the EU remains possible, but the probability of a Greek exit is clearly now higher than at any time in 2012," Barclays Research wrote in a report.

"The rise of radical parties in Europe, such as Podemos in Spain, leaves not much room to EU policymakers to be lenient on Greece's requests."

Australian stocks, however, bucked the downtrend and closed up for the eleventh consecutive session.

The S&P/ASX 200 index was up 0.6% at 5,811.0 after hitting 5,819.1 - the highest since May 2008.

The benchmark index has risen 9.5% in 11 sessions - a feat that has not happened in over five years.

Stock Movers

Japanese technology giant Sony saw its shares surge by as much as 18% before closing up 12% in Tokyo after the firm narrowed its full-year loss forecast.

Australia's fourth-biggest bank also got a lift from a positive earnings report, rising by 1.3% in Sydney.

National Australia Bank said its quarterly cash profit rose 6% to $1.3bn on increased mortgage lending.

Shares of Taiwan's TransAsia Airways fell for a second day after the company suffered its second fatal crash in under a year.

Flight 235 crashed shortly after takeoff from a Taipei airport on Wednesday, killing at least 31 people and injuring more than a dozen others.

TransAsia stock fell 3.3% in Taipei after having lost 6.9% yesterday.

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