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Market Update

Asian Stocks Finish Down; Sensex Tanks 4%

Asian markets all dipped into the red, following a weak lead from Wall Street overnight after mixed economic data and some disappointing corporate earnings in the U.S. dented sentiment.

Investors seemed to be worried about a possible early exit of the Federal Reserve's monetary stimulus program. Recent data showing positive U.S. jobs claims data and rising consumer prices stoked speculations the Fed would start scaling back its monthly bond-purchase program as early as next month.

Across the Asian indexes, Shanghai-listed shares, which were trading high earlier in the session, also gave up the gains to finish 0.6% lower. Mainland China’s Shanghai Composite bounced as much as 5.6% earlier in the session, logging its biggest intraday rise since March 2009, following which the securities exchange ordered an investigation of the sudden spike.

Elsewhere, Hong Kong's Hang Seng slipped 0.1%, Japan's Nikkei lost 0.7% and Australia's S&P/ASX All Ordinaries erased 0.7%.

The biggest loser of the day, however, was Mumbai's Sensex, which plunged 3.9% as the Indian rupee hit a record low of 62 against the dollar, fuelling fears the central bank would soon initiate measures including rate hikes to curb the rupee’s slide.

Stocks on the Move

Exporters in Tokyo moved lower as the yen grew stronger against the dollar amid ongoing concerns over the longetivity of the Fed's asset purchase program. 

Nintendo Co. fell 2%, Sharp Corp. also lost 2% and chip-maker Advantest Corp. retreated 1.5%.

Financials, retailers, realty players and pharma stocks were all down in today's trade as investors pulled money out of these sectors.

But oil stocks bucked the trend -- Japan Petroleum gained 2.6% while Inpex Corp. rose over 1%.

On the mainland, PetroChina Co. moved off highs but managed to end up 0.3% while China Petroleum & Chemical Corp. added 0.4%.

Banking stocks also posted solid gains earlier in the session, but moved off the peaks. ICBC, China Construction Bank, Agricultural Bank and Bank of Communications all finished around 0.5% to 1% higher.

Metal players in Hong Kong were also higher -- Angang Steel tacked on a 1.2% while gold miner Zijin Mining rose 2.2%.

But property developers could not retain gains and slipped into the negative zone. Gemdale Corp. erased 0.4% and Poly Real Estate Group lost 0.7%.

Meanwhile, shares in Mumbai slipped even as the rupee hit its record low against the dollar, and as market watchers feared foreign investors would pull money out of the Indian markets to move into developed economies amid growing signs of recovery in the U.S. and Europe.

Capital goods stocks were among the worst performers. BHEL tumbled nearly 11%, Sterlite Industries and Jindal Steel slumped over 6% while Gail India dropped 6.5%.

In Sydney, ANZ said its net profit for the nine months through June rose 7% and offered a better outlook. Shares of the bank fell 2.4%, however.

Among others, Westpac Banking slipped 1.1% and NAB erased 0.7%.

In the mining segment, Fortescue Metals Group lost 4.1% amid news that a Taiwanese investing company has agreed to invest $1.15 billion in the miner's new iron-ore project.

Other miners were traded lower -- BHP Billiton lost 1.3% after U.S. authorities have stepped up an investigation into potential breaches of anticorruption laws by the mining giant. Rio Tinto finished down 2.2%.