RTTNews - Asian stock markets fell across the board on Monday with participants choosing to take profits after recent strong rallies. Some of the markets, including Japan, opened on a buoyant note but have faltered subsequently due to fairly heavy selling across the board. Caution before the release of key economic reports in the U.S., including July employment data on Friday, also weighed on stocks.

China's Shanghai Composite index plunged nearly 7% to a three-month low on renewed concerns over a potential tightening of liquidity and apprehensions that banks will cut back on their lending. The benchmark ended at 2,668, down 6.74 percent taking its total losses in August to almost 22 percent.

The Hong Kong market followed, with the benchmark Hang Seng falling 374 points or 1.86% to 19,724, representing a five-week closing low.

The Japanese market reversed its early gains and ended down modestly, as the stronger yen and weakness in the other Asian markets more than outweighed the positive impact of the opposition's landslide election victory and positive July industrial production data.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 index closed at 10,493, down 42 points or 0.4%, after rising over 232 points in early trading. , the Topix index of all the Tokyo Stock Exchange First Section issues fell 4 points or 0.4% to 966.

Retail shares such as Yamada Denki, Aeon and child-care goods makers such as Pigeon Corp received buying support on hopes of increased consumer spending. CSK Holdings surged up 8.45% on reports the company's lenders are considering plans to provide capital assistance totaling around Y30 billion.

The stronger yen dragged down exporters. Sony slipped 1.37%, Toyota Motor fell 1.24%, Honda Motor eased 1.84% and Tokyo Electron edged down 0.59%, while Advantest closed unchanged. Daiichi Sankyo fell nearly 3% on reports AstraZeneca's new blood thinner may prove a stronger rival to Plavix than Daiichi Sankyo's and Eli Lilly's recently launched Effient.

The Australian market ended down modestly, as investors took some profits after a pretty satisfactory reporting season. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 closed at 4,479, down 10 points or 0.23% and the broader All Ordinaries index fell 12 points or 0.26% to 4,484.

ANZ soared over 4% after a trading update, Commonwealth Bank rose nearly 2%, investment bank Macquarie Group rallied 3.78%, National Australia Bank gained 2.41% and Westpac edged up 0.25%.

Big miner BHP Billiton fell nearly 3% and its rival Rio Tinto eased a little over 2% on profit taking after recent gains, but gold miners Lihir Gold, Newcrest and Newmont Mining ended stronger on firm gold prices.

In the energy sector, Woodside Petroleum fell 1.41%, Santos slipped 0.57%, Oil Serach declined 1.57% and Origin Energy edged down 0.46%, tracking declines in oil prices.

Among media stocks, News Corp fell 2.50%, while Faairfax Media rose 0.68% and Consolidated Media added 1.27%.

South Korea's benchmark KOSPI fell 16 points or 1.0% to 1,592 on institutional selling, tracking the weakness in rest of Asia. However, technology stocks such as Hynix Semiconductor and Samsung Electronics gained on the back of upbeat third-quarter outlook from Intel Corp. Auto stocks Hyundai Motor and Kia Motors also rose on hopes of earnings improvement, while banks and brokerages ended on a subdued note.

Foreign funds and domestic institutional investors offloaded a net KRW39.6 billion and KRW196.9 billion worth of stocks, respectively.

New Zealand's benchmark NZX-50 fell by 11 points or 0.36% to 3,095 despite the National Bank Business Outlook survey for August suggesting an improvement in business conditions in the year ahead.

Among the top stocks, Contact Energy and Fletcher Building fell around 2% each, Freightways and Mainfreight eased nearly 1% each, NZX fell 1.94%, Sky City gave off 1.51%, Telstra tumbled 3.26% and Warehouse Group ended down 0.74%.

Telecom fell 1.43% after the Commerce Commission opened an investigation into an alleged breach of Telecom's Separation Undertakings. PGG Wrightson tumbled over 4% on concerns about equity dilution after posting a full-year loss.

Bucking the declining trend, Air New Zealand rose 0.81%, Goodman Property Trust advanced 1.03%, Hallenstein Glasson gained 1.82% and Infratil added 0.58%. Steel & Tube Holdings surged up 6.06% after the NBNZ survey showed residential construction soared to a 15-year high.

India's benchmark BSE Sensex is currently trading at 15,666, down 256 points or 1.61%, dragged down by IT, metal, FMCG and oil/gas stocks despite better-than-expected GDP report for the June quarter.

On Friday, stocks on Wall Street gave up most of their initial gains and eventually ended the session on a mixed note after a weak U.S. consumer sentiment data released on Friday highlighted the difficulties facing an economic recovery.

Separately, the U.S. Commerce Department said that personal spending rose 0.2% in July compared to an upwardly revised 0.6% increase in the previous month. The modest increase came in line with economist estimates. The Dow ended lower by 0.4 and the S&P 500 index drifted down 0.2%, while the Nasdaq closed up 0.1%.

Oil prices surged to $73.52 a barrel in New York trading on Friday before ending the session off the highs at $72.74 a barrel, up $0.24 on the session. However, in Asian trading on Monday, crude oil prices fell sharply to $71.55 a barrel amid weakness in equities across the Asia-Pacific region.

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