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Asia shares mixed, Nikkei hit by strong yen

Asian markets were mixed on Tuesday (Aug 26) with a record close on Wall Street offset by profit-taking, while Japan's Nikkei succumbed to a stronger yen.

HONG KONG: Asian markets were mixed on Tuesday (Aug 26) with a record close on Wall Street offset by profit-taking, while Japan's Nikkei succumbed to a stronger yen.

Tokyo fell 0.59 percent, or 92.03 points, to 15,521.22 and Hong Kong shed 0.37 percent, or 92.41 points, to end at 25,074.50 after hitting a six-year high on Monday. Shanghai dropped 0.99 percent, or 22.17 points, to 2,207.11 on lingering concerns about the economy while expectations of fresh measures to kickstart it fade.

Sydney ended flat, adding 2.7 points to 5,637.6 and Seoul was 0.35 percent higher, putting on 7.16 points to 2,068.05. Taipei edged up 3.34 points to 9,393.96 while Manila put on 0.19 percent or 13.26 points at 7,146.35.

US traders reacted positively to weekend comments from Federal Reserve head Janet Yellen on the bank's monetary policy. Yellen told the Fed's annual symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, that despite a sharp fall in joblessness there was "considerable uncertainty about the level of employment" in the economy. 

That was taken as signalling her commitment to raise rates late next year, rather than earlier as some analysts and policymakers would like. The prospect of the Fed continuing its accommodative policy cheered US investors, who sent the S&P 500 to a record level. The S&P 500 rose 0.48 percent but ended a tad below the 2,000 level after breaching it for the first time earlier in the day.

The Dow added 0.44 percent and the Nasdaq jumped 0.41 percent to its best close since the dot-com crash 14 years ago.

Asian markets were unable to extend their gains from Monday, however, and the dollar lost its momentum after hitting a seven-month high against the yen. In Japanese trade, the greenback fetched 103.88 yen compared with 104.01 yen late in New York and well off the 104.18 yen in Tokyo earlier Monday.

The euro bought US$1.3191 and 137.10 yen Tuesday, against US$1.3193 and 137.23 yen in US trade. The single currency was also under pressure after European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi hinted that he could embark on fresh monetary easing measures to kickstart the eurozone, while an index of German business confidence hit a 13-month low.

On oil markets US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for October delivery rose 27 cents to US$93.62 while Brent crude for October gained 11 cents US$102.76 in afternoon trade.

Gold traded at US$1,289.25 an ounce at 0800 GMT compared to US$1,277.98 an ounce late Monday.