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Market Update

Asia Adds; Nikkei Drags

Most Asian markets traded higher Wednesday but Japanese stocks lagged behind as investors locked in profits after yesterday's sharp rally.

The Nikkei was down 0.5%.

On the other side, mainland China's Shanghai Composite rallied 1.1%, Australia's All Ordinaries added 0.2% and the Hang Seng climbed 0.3%.

Mumbai's Sensex finished up 0.4%.

Sentiment was positive at open after Wall Street stocks ended mostly higher despite some disappointing economic data. Some corporate announcements were also in focus.

Stocks on the Move

Most exporters in Tokyo were in the red as profit booking wiped out yesterday's rally. The dollar strengthened against the yen on heels of weak U.S. economic data yesterday, which added further pressure.

Sony Corp. and Panasonic Corp. lost 1.8% and 2.4% respectively while Honda Motor Corp. was 1.8% lower.

A few others managed to move against the tide, however. Canon Inc. rose 2%, Konami Corp. rose 1.8% while Nintendo Co. was up 1.2%, extending yesterday's gains.

In Hong Kong, airline stocks and property developers found buying support. China Overseas Land & Investment was up 1.6% and Sun Hung Kai Properties gained 1.5%.

Shanghai-listed Gemdale Corp. improved 1.8% while Poly Real Estate Group added 1%.

Among airliners, China Eastern Airlines flew 2.7% and Shandong Airlines climbed 2% amid reports new regulations relaxing the management and use of lower airspace will be announced as early as February-end.

Air China gave up early gains to end down 0.8%. Shares had rallied earlier in the session after reports said it has signed a memorandum of understanding with Honeywell Aerospace (HON)  to begin testing GX Aviation on the airline's A 330 aircraft.

In Sydney, Brambles Ltd. rose 2.5% after reporting higher first half profits, but Woodside Petroleum slipped 0.8% after its fiscal year profits declined.

Wesfarmers slipped 0.5% despite posting strong results and announcing hefty dividends.

Among miners, Fortescue Metals Group, which also reported higher profits, declined 2.3%.

SunCorp. Group reported a decline in its half-year profit but hiked dividend payout. Shares of the insurer slid 2.8%, however.

In Mumbai, IT stocks were among the forerunners. Infosys rose 2% while Wipro and TCS climbed around 1.5% each.

Among others, pharmaceuticals were favoured -- Sun Pharma was the topper, adding 2.4%, while Dr. Reddys Lab gained 1% and Cipla was up 0.3%