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Asia mixed as Nikkei reverses gains

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Nikkei 225 Index

Last Updated at 29 Dec 2014, 00:15 ET

Nikkei 225 one month chart

Asian markets reversed earlier gains to trade mixed after a possible health scare spooked Japanese markets.

The Nikkei 225 fell 0.5% to 17,718.34 on news that a man who recently arrived from Sierra Leone is being tested for Ebola.

If the test is positive, it would be Japan’s first case of the deadly disease.

The dollar was at 120.20 yen, within sight of its seven-and-a-half year high of 121.86 set earlier this month.

Budget airline tumble

In Malaysia, shares of Kuala Lumpur-listed AirAsia plunged as much as 13% after news its plane flying from Indonesia to Singapore had gone missing on Sunday.

That marked the budget airline’s biggest one day drop in over three years.

Its Airbus A320-200 disappeared over the Java Sea en route to Singapore from Surabaya and authorities are still searching for the aircraft.

Its shares have recovered some of the earlier losses to trade down 7.8%, according to Bloomberg.

China shares rallied after state media reported that the country’s central bank had further eased monetary policy over the weekend.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite was higher 1.4% to 3,200.13, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index was up 1.8% to 23,772.21.

News from government agency State Information Centre that China’s growth is expected to slow to 7% next year from a forecast 7.3% this year did little to dent investor sentiment.

In Australia, shares hit a seven week high in thin holiday trade.

The benchmark SP/ASX 200 closed up 1.5% to 5,473.8 with shares of iron ore miner Fortescue Metals jumping 7.5%.

BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto both gained 2.5% even though iron ore prices dropped to a five-year trough last week.

South Korean shares led the region’s downtrend.

The benchmark Kospi index finished down 1% to 1,927.86 points.

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