Asian shares slip on profit-taking, hopes grow for recovery

Asian shares slip on profit-taking, hopes grow for recovery


TOKYO (AP) — Asian shares were mostly lower Wednesday as investors sold to lock in profits from the recent rally driven by hopes economies will gradually return to a pre-pandemic normal.

Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 dipped 0.6% to finish at 30,292.19, even as the vaccination drive against COVID-19 began, starting with health care workers. South Korea's Kospi dropped 0.9% to 3,134.97. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 slipped 0.5% to 6,885.20. Hong Kong's Hang Seng gained 1.3% to 31,146.10. Trading was closed in Shanghai for the Lunar New Year holiday.

Hopes are high for a recovery for Japan, coming in the latter part of this year, especially if the Tokyo Olympics are held as scheduled in July, although the growth pace will slow next year and the year after that, Yoshimasa Maruyama, senior economist for SMBC Nikko Securities, said in a report.

The vaccine rollout in Japan and a recovery of exports as overseas economies rebound will prove key for the Japanese economy, he said.

Shares of Toyota Motor Corp. slipped after Japan's top automaker said 14 assembly lines at nine of its plants in Japan were being halted for up to four days, starting Wednesday, because of the effects of the recent earthquake that shook northeastern Japan.

The automaker did not give details but said the stoppage was caused by a shortage of auto parts. Thousands of parts go into a vehicle. Toyota has 15 plants in Japan. The affected lines make, among other vehicles, Lexus models, the Prius hybrid and the RAV4 sport utility vehicle.

On Wall Street, indexes closed mostly lower Tuesday as losses in health care and technology companies kept gains in energy and other sectors of the market in check.

Rising bond yields, a sign of confidence in the economic outlook and expectations of rising inflation, are...

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