By Kenan Machado
Kospi down again, while Japan stocks poised for best monthly performance this year
Asian equities finished mostly lower on Thursday, with rising bond yields boosting finance stocks in Japan and Australia, though Chinese markets experienced selling pressure ahead of a week-long holiday.
Japan's Nikkei Stock Average closed up 0.5%, recovering from Wednesday's declines when companies paid dividends. Shares of banks and insurers, which are large holders of U.S. government bonds, drove gains in Tokyo shares.
Overnight, yields on 10-year U.S. Treasurys posted their biggest one-day gain since March, after Republicans in Washington released a plan to overhaul the tax code, which they hope will help economic growth. Those yields rose further in Asian trading on Thursday.
"The plan leaves scope for details to be adjusted, allowing compromises and resultant conciliation, which is likely to boost its chances of getting passed," said Mizuho Bank analyst Zhu Huani.
Banking stocks also drove Australia's benchmark index higher, with the S&P/ASX 200 up 0.1%.
Chinese markets faced selling pressure ahead of a week-long break. The Shanghai Composite Index closed down 0.2%. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index fell 0.8% to a six-week low amid declines in property developers, Tencent (>> Tencent Holdings Ltd) and China Construction Bank (>> China Construction Bank Corporation) .
"People are hesitating to buy shares in the market given holidays next week," said Ivan Ip, a stock strategist at UOB Group in Hong Kong.
Though the city's stock exchange will be open for three days next week, a full-week closure in mainland China for the National Day holiday will significantly reduce trading volumes, analysts said
Already, Chinese stock investment flows to Hong Kong are down. Hong Kong's biggest share listing of the year posted a strong debut on Thursday. ZhongAn Online P&C Insurance (>> Zhong An Real Estate Limited) , a Chinese insurer, opened up 16%, but ended up just 9.2%.