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Market Update

Asian Markets End Mixed

Asian indexes finished on either side of the flat-line Thursday as worries about the timing and quantum of the U.S. Federal Reserve's taper plan ahead of its policy meeting preponderated.

At close, Tokyo's Nikkei lost 0.3% and Mumbai's Sensex fell 1.1%.

Mainland China's Shanghai Composite gained 0.6% while Hong Kong's Hang Seng and Australia's S&P/ASX All Ordinaries added 0.1% each.

Investors seemed to have paused for breath after sharp gains seen in recent sessions as they eyed the Fed’s monetary policy meeting next week.

Most analysts believe the U.S. central bank would announce some sort of a reduction in its monthly bond-purchase program this meeting; although the quantum of the scale-back is expected to be much lesser than earlier planned following last Friday's dismal U.S. jobs data.

Back in Asia, some economic reports were in the headlines. Data released in Japan showed core machinery orders remained flat in July from the previous month, which means businesses are still cautious about increasing investments despite a weaker yen and monetary stimuli by the Japanese government.

Meanwhile, Japan's prime minister reportedly said the government would go ahead with a sales tax hike next April and would implement a 5-trillion-yen-package of measures to counter its impact on the economy.

In Australia, unemployment increased to a seasonally adjusted 5.8% in August, from 5.7% in July, official statistics revealed.

Stocks on the Move

In Tokyo, stocks edged lower as the dollar weakened amid taper talks. A stronger yen diminishes the earnings outlook of export-oriented firms, and weighs on shares of these companies.

Toyota Motor Corp., Sony Corp. and Toshiba Corp. all lost around 1% each.

Sharp Corp. plunged nearly 6% amid concerns about its fund-raising plan. The struggling electronics-maker intends to raise up to 170 billion yen through a public share offering and a third-party allotment.

Mitsubishi Motors Corp. slumped 8% after the Nikkei daily reported the automaker was planning a 200 billion yen share offering, triggering dilution concerns.

In Hong Kong, some property developers ended in the green. Sino Land Company added 1% while Sun Hung Kai Properties gained 0.7%.

Real-estate stocks on the mainland bourses pulled off early lows. Shanghai-listed Gemdale Corp. pared some losses but still finished 1% lower, while the broader Shenzhen-listed China Vanke eased 0.1%.

Back in Hong Kong, metal players continued to shine, with financials and some exporters lending additional support. Jiangxi Copper climbed 1.5%, global banking giant HSBC Holdings moved up 0.2% while fashion retailer Esprit Holdings improved 0.7%.

In Sydney, banks and miners ended mixed after a cautious session. Index-leader BHP Billiton added 0.7% while close rival Rio Tinto ended flat. Fortescue Metals Group fell 2.9%.

Among banks, NAB was little-changed while Westpac Banking Group and ANZ lost 0.2% and 1.1% respectively.

In corporate news, chief executive officer of Qantas Airways Ltd. said the airline was mulling the possibility of relocating its Jetstar business to the current international terminal one at Sydney Airport. Shares of the national carrier were up 2.9% on heels of the news.

On the earnings front, Sigma Pharmaceutical Ltd. gained 0.8% despite posting a 38% drop in half-yearly profits.

Retailer Myer Holdings fell 3.8% after the company's full-year profit declined a more than expected 9%.

In Mumbai, markets opened on a positive note but soon lost momentum amid mixed global cues and as investors booked profits.

Capital goods stocks, auto firms and banks were among the top decliners.

Tata Steel lost 4.4%, Hero MotoCorp and BHEL erased 3.9% each while ONGC,  Maruti Suzuki, Hindalco Industries and Coal India ended down around 2.7% to 3.5%.

Among banks, SBI lost 2%, ICICI Bank gave up 1.7% and HDFC Bank erased 1.6%.