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 February 7, 2016 - 5:38 PM EST
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Asian Shares Defy Wall Street Selloff

CANBERA (dpa-AFX) - Asian shares closed flat to higher on Monday even as many markets across the region, including

China
,
Hong Kong
,
Indonesia
,
South Korea
,
Malaysia
,
the Philippines
,
Singapore
and
Taiwan
, remained closed for the Lunar New Year holidays. The
New Zealand
market was closed in observance of Waitangi Day. Markets in mainland
China
and
Taiwan
are closed all week while
Hong Kong
markets are closed until Wednesday.

Investors grappled with

U.S.
rate uncertainty as a mixed jobs report offered some encouraging signals of economic health. While the pace of hiring in the
U.S.
tapered off in January, a decrease in the overall rate of unemployment and solid wage growth offered some relief to investors worried about slowing growth.
U.S.
shares fell broadly on Friday as the latest jobs report painted a murky picture of the world's largest economy. The Dow dropped 1.3 percent and the S&P 500 slid 1.9 percent while the tech-heavy Nasdaq tumbled 3.3 percent to close at its lowest level in well over a year following dismal sales forecasts from marquee technology names.

While crude prices inched up in thin trading on Monday despite no agreement between OPEC producers

Saudi Arabia
and
Venezuela
on output, central bank data showed that
China's
foreign reserves fell by $99.5 billion to $3.23 trillion in January, the lowest level in more than three years, as
Beijing
continued to sell dollars to stop the yuan from depreciating further. The drop largely matched a Bloomberg poll forecast.

Japanese shares snapped a four-day losing streak after the dollar rose above 117 yen and data showed

Japan
posted an 18th consecutive current account surplus, boosted by a plunge in crude oil imports and a record travel surplus. The dollar rose to 117.39 yen from 116.82 yen as investors looked ahead to Fed Chair Janet Yellen's semi-annual testimony to Congress this week for further clues on rate hike prospects.

The Nikkei average hit a two-week low of 16,552.30 in early trade before rebounding to close 184.71 points or 1.10 percent higher at 17,004.30. The broader Topix index added 0.8 percent to finish at 1,380.41. Banks Mitsubishi UFJ Financial, Mizuho Financial Group and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial ended largely unchanged after falling sharply in early trade on concerns that the Bank of Japan's introduction of negative interest rates will poison their business model.

Toyota Motor fell 1.1 percent after posting a lower-than-expected operating profit for the third quarter. Honda Motor rose 0.4 percent and Nissan Motor gained 0.8 percent. Semiconductor-related Advantest climbed 4.6 percent, robot manufacturer Fanuc rose 3.3 percent and machinery maker Hitachi Construction Machinery advanced 2.6 percent.

Australian shares closed marginally lower despite steep losses on Wall Street Friday. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 dropped as much as 0.9 percent in early trade before recouping losses to end the session down 0.80 points or 0.02 percent at 4,975.40. The broader All Ordinaries index slipped 3.50 points or 0.07 percent to end at 5,022.10.

The big four banks fell between 0.3 percent and 1.5 percent as investors braced for earnings and ANZ refused to comment on a report that it will face legal action by the corporate watchdog over alleged interest rate rigging.

Mining giants BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto rose 1-2 percent, oil & gas producer Santos gained 0.3 percent and rival Woodside Petroleum added 0.6 percent. Gold miner Newcrest Mining jumped 3.7 percent as spot gold prices traded near a three-month high.

Asciano advanced 2.4 percent after a consortium led by Qube Holdings raised its offer for the rail and ports operator. Ansell climbed 7.3 percent after the gloves maker said it would do better in the second half of the financial year. JB Hi-Fi slid half a percent on reporting a 7.5 percent increase in half-year profit.

India's
Sensex traded flat with a positive bias as gains in banking stocks offset weakness in the IT sector.

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Source: Equities.com News (February 7, 2016 - 5:38 PM EST)

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