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Market Update

Chinese Stocks Gain After Data; Nikkei Slips 0.9%

Chinese stocks posted a sharp rally Monday after data showed profits of industrial companies rose in December, but Japanese markets ended lower amid profit booking.

The Shanghai Composite soared 2.4% while the Hang Seng added 0.4%. The Sensex finished little changed, down 0.1%, while markets in Australia remained closed for a holiday.

These gains were largely driven by upbeat data released today, which showed profits earned by Chinese industrial companies increased a robust 17.3% in December from a year ago to 895.2 billion yuan, hinting recovery in the world's second largest economy.

But Japan's benchmark Nikkei index lost initial gains and finished down 0.9% after briefly hitting a three-year high in early trades.

Stocks on the move

Exporters in Tokyo finished mixed as the dollar traded near the 91-yen mark after hitting a low of 90.80 per yen earlier in the session.

On the upside, Sony Corp. surged over 9%, Nintendo added around 4% and Nissan Motor gained 2.4%.

On the flipside, chipmaker Advantest Corp. dropped over 5% while Tokyo Electron slipped 2.4%.

Shipping companies added to the losses. Mitsui O.S.K. dropped over 2% while Kawasaki Kishen K.K. erased more than 3.5%.    

Industrial robotics maker Fanuc Corp. tumbled 7% after slashing its full-year profit outlook.

But financials and energy players held up with modest gains. Daiwa Securities climbed 2.1% and Inpex Corp. gained 2.9%.

In Hong Kong, index heavyweight HSBC Holdings and Hang Seng Bank improved 1% each.

Financials on the mainland bourses were also on the buyers' list -- ICBC climbed 1.2%, Agricultural Bank rose 3.2% while Bank of Communications gained 3% in Shanghai.

Airline stocks were among other gainers in Hong Kong -- Air China added 1.7% while China Eastern Airlines enhanced 2%.

In Mumbai, interest-rate sensitive stocks found support ahead of the central bank's monetary policy review tomorrow.

Among the gainers, auto stocks zoomed ahead on hopes the RBI would cut interest rates. Tata Motors was up 2.5%, followed by Hero MotoCorp, up 1.8%.

In banks, ICICI Bank rose 1.5%, HDFC added 0.8% but state-run SBI lost early gains to finish down 1%.

Among other losers, ONGC lost 1.8%, Reliance Industries fell 1.7% while Hindustan Unilever shed 1%.