Asian Shares Fall After Yellen Comments; Nikkei Bucks Trend

Asian Shares Fall After Yellen Comments; Nikkei Bucks Trend -

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( - Most Asian stocks fell on Monday after Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen

hinted in her speech at the annual Jackson Hole conference that a rise in interest rates could be on the cards soon in the midst of an improving U.S. economy.

While Yellen's remarks raised the odds of a rate increase at the September FOMC meeting, many market participants now look ahead to this week's U.S. jobs report for clues on the pace and timing of future rate hikes.

Chinese shares ended on a flat note, as gains in industrial stocks offset weakness in the banking sector. The benchmark Shanghai Composite ended down 0.28 point at 3,070.03 while Hong Kong's Hang Seng index was down 88 points or 0.38 percent at 22,821.

The Nikkei average jumped 376.78 points or 2.30 percent to 16,737.49, the highest closing level since August 17. The broader Topix index closed 1.97 percent higher at 1,313.24. Exporters Canon, Honda Motor, Toyota and Mazda Motor climbed 2-6 percent as the dollar hit a three-week high against the yen.

Australian shares fell for a third day as U.S. rate hike expectations and the dollar's strength weighed on commodity prices. Disappointing new home sales data also dented investor sentiment. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 dropped 46.30 points or 0.84 percent to 5,469.20 and the broader All Ordinaries index shed 45.90 points or 0.82 percent to finish at 5,561.50.

The big four banks fell around 1 percent while mining giants BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto ended narrowly mixed. Gold miners Newcrest Mining, Norther Star Resources and Evolution Mining slumped 3-11 percent as gold prices dipped on a firmer dollar.

Oil Search, Origin Energy and Woodside Petroleum dropped 1-3 percent after oil prices fell more than 1 percent in Asian deals on reports that Iran will continue to ramp up output.

Online furniture retailer Temple & Webster Group lost almost 8 percent on reporting a full-year pro-forma loss of A$44 million. Crown Resorts dropped 1.5 percent after billionaire James Packer

offloaded a $448 million stake in the company.

Seoul shares extended losses for the fourth day as the dollar got a boost from hawkish comments from Yellen and Federal Reserve Vice Chairman Stanley Fischer

. The Kospi average slid 5.15 points or 0.25 percent to 2,032.35. While automakers led losses, market bellwether Samsung Electronics rallied 1.7 percent.

New Zealand shares fell in line with a weak global trend. The benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index dropped 24.04 points or 0.33 percent to 7,367.26. Generis Energy, Skellerup Holdings, Spark New Zealand, Kathmandu Holdings and A2 Milk lost 2-3 percent.

Chorus fell 1.7 percent after the fixed-line telecommunications provider booked a flat annual profit and said chief executive Mark Ratcliffe

will step down from the position around the middle of next year. Air New Zealand, which announced a fully imputed special dividend of 25 cents per share on Friday, climbed 2.5 percent.

Elsewhere, Indonesia's Jakarta Composite index was tumbling 1.4 percent and Singapore's Straits Times index was declining 0.7 percent, while benchmark indexes in India, Malaysia and Taiwan were down between 0.1 percent and 0.2 percent.

U.S. stocks ended mixed on Friday in reaction to a key speech from Yellen and disappointing GDP and consumer sentiment data. The Dow slid 0.3 percent and the S&P 500 dropped 0.2 percent while the tech-heavy Nasdaq inched up 0.1 percent.

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