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Asian Shares Mixed in Cautious Trade

The Nikkei average dropped 83.47 points or 0.35% to finish at 23,868.34 after touching a 26-year high in the previous session.The Nikkei average dropped 83.47 points or 0.35% to finish at 23,868.34 after touching a 26-year high in the previous session.

Asian stocks ended mixed on Wednesday as lower commodity prices and weak overnight cues from Wall Street on concerns over the possibility of a US government shutdown overshadowed upbeat regional economic data.

A widespread sell-off in digital currencies on fears of impending crackdowns, apprehensions surrounding coalition talks in Germany and speculation that the European Central Bank policymakers are preparing to reduce their vast monetary stimulus program also kept investors on their toes, Business Insider reported.

Chinese stocks closed slightly higher ahead of fourth-quarter GDP, December industrial production and retail sales data due Thursday. The benchmark Shanghai Composite index rose 8.08 points or 0.24% to 3,444.67 while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index was marginally higher in late trade after notching a record close on Tuesday.

Japanese shares lost ground as a firmer yen weighed on exporters and bitcoin-related stocks succumbed to selling pressure on fears of a regulatory crackdown.

The Nikkei average dropped 83.47 points or 0.35% to finish at 23,868.34 after touching a 26-year high in the previous session. The broader Topix index closed 0.18% lower at 1,890.82. Virtual currency trading company Remixpoint tumbled 4%, point media business operator Ceres slumped 13.8% and technology giant GMO Internet plummeted 8%.

Australian shares extended losses to hit a more than four-week low as weak base metal prices pulled down material stocks. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index dropped 32.80 points or 0.54% to 6,015.80, while the broader All Ordinaries index ended down 31.60 points or 0.51% at 6,134.30.

BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto and Fortescue Metals Group lost around 3% each as Chinese iron ore futures fell for a fifth day running. The big four banks fell between 0.3% and 0.6% while energy majors Woodside Petroleum and Oil Search ended down about half a percent each.

Seoul stocks fell on institutional selling due to some profit taking in major tech stocks. The benchmark Kospi declined 6.31 points or 0.25% to 2,515.43.

New Zealand shares rose notably despite weak cues from offshore and other regional markets. The benchmark S&P/NZX-50 index ended 47.13 points or 0.57% higher at 8,297.67.

Singapore’s Straits Timex index was moving down 0.1% after data showed the country’s non-oil domestic exports increased at a slower-than-expected pace in December.

Indonesian shares were marginally higher, the Taiwan Weighted rose 0.2% and India’s Sensex was rising half a percent while Malaysia’s KLSE Composite index was down 0.1%.

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