Asian Shares Mostly Higher As BOJ Keeps Policy Unchanged

Asian stocks fluctuated before closing mostly higher on Thursday after top White House officials finally unveiled the president’s highly anticipated tax reform plan that includes significant reductions in both individual and corporate income tax rates.

The proposal would lower the corporate tax rate to 15 percent from the current 35 percent and also eliminate the so-called “Death Tax” on estates.

Analysts initially greeted President Trump’s tax plan as a starting point to simplify the U.S. tax code, but warned that there were obstacles ahead.

Chinese shares reversed initial losses to close modestly higher after official data showed profits earned by Chinese industrial firms climbed markedly in March, though at a slower pace than in the first two months of the year.

Industrial profits surged an annual 23.8 percent, well below the 31.5 percent spike in the January to February period. However, it was much faster than the 8.5 percent growth in the whole year 2016.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite rose 11.34 points or 0.36 percent to 3,152.19, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index was up 113 points or 0.46 percent at 24,694 in late trade.

Japanese shares snapped a four-day rally as the Bank of Japan kept its policy steady while sounding more upbeat on the economy, citing a pick-up in overseas demand. The Nikkei average shed 37.56 points or 0.19 percent to finish at 19,251.87 while the broader Topix index closed 0.05 percent lower at 1,536.67.

Takata shares plummeted 19.5 percent after reports that the airbag maker was considering filing for bankruptcy protection and then selling its core operations. Canon jumped 3.7 percent after lifting its FY17 outlook.

Australian shares moved in a narrow range before finishing higher, led by financial and gold mining stocks. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 inched up 9.50 points or 0.16 percent to 5,921.50, while the broader All Ordinaries index closed 7.60 points or 0.13 percent higher at 5,944.40.

The big four banks rose between 0.6 percent and 1 percent ahead of earnings due next week. Gold miners Evolution and Northern Star climbed 3-5 percent as gold prices rebounded in Asian deals on skepticism over Trump’s proposed tax reform.

Energy major Santos fell as much 5.5 percent after the conservative government proposed a radical plan to restrict exports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) when required. Lower copper prices weighed on mining stocks, with BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto and Fortescue Metals Group losing 1-3 percent.

Ten Network slumped 19 percent after the company reported a massive half-year loss and warned of “material uncertainty” that may cast significant doubt on the group’s ability to continue as a going concern. Wesfarmers dropped 1.5 percent on reporting muted growth in supermarket sales for the third quarter.

South Korea’s Kospi average ended marginally higher after central bank data showed South Korea’s economy accelerated at a faster than expected pace in the first quarter on the back of strong exports and…

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