Asia Stocks Fall While Wall Street Gains

SHANGHAI (AP) - Asia's stock market rally seemed to be running
out of steam Wednesday, despite an overnight surge on Wall Street,
as investors cashed in on recent gains amid persistent doubts about
the outlook for the global economy.

"So far, the market has followed the U.S. rebound, but the
index is facing resistance," said Castor Pang, an analyst at Sun
Hung Kai Financial in Hong Kong. "The rebound has almost reached
its limit," he said, noting that turnover in most markets is not
rising quickly enough to suggest a recovery.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng index led the region, gaining 204.30
points, or 1.5 percent, to 13,082.77, while Shanghai's benchmark
Composite Index added 0.5 percent to 2,229.72.

Tokyo's Nikkei 225 stock average briefly surpassed 8,000 for the
first time in a month, but succumbed to selling as investors cashed
in on recent gains. As afternoon trading began, the index slid 0.5
percent to 7,910.94.

Australia's benchmark S&P/ASX 200 edged 0.1 percent lower to
3,449.50 after miner Rio Tinto dropped 8.6 percent on worries over
its deal with Aluminum Corp. of China. South Korea's key index was
flat.

Wall Street got a surprise boost Tuesday, posting its fifth gain
in six trading sessions, from a government report that home
construction picked up in February. The news, which was unexpected,
injected new energy into a week-old rally.

Banking shares in Asia extended gains, with Mitsubishi UFJ
Financial Group up more than 1 percent and Mizuho Financial Group
advancing more than 3 percent.

In China, major steel maker Baoshan Iron & Steel gained 2.3
percent and airlines were mostly higher, with China Eastern
Airlines surging 4.9 percent and Air China gaining 2.4 percent.

Major banks fell back, with Industrial & Commercial Bank of
China slipping 0.9 percent and Shanghai Pudong Development Bank
falling 0.8 percent.

In New York Tuesday, the Dow Jones industrial average jumped 179
points, or 2.5 percent, to 7,395.70. The Standard & Poor's 500
index climbed more than 3 percent.

U.S. stock index futures were down modestly, pointing to a lower
open on Wall Street Wednesday. Dow futures were down 9 points, or
0.1 percent, while S&P 500 futures were down 2.9 percent, or 0.4
percent.

In Europe, shares fell back Tuesday. Britain's FTSE 100 fell 0.2
percent, Germany's DAX index fell 1.4 percent, and France's CAC-40
slid 0.9 percent.

Oil prices fell in Asian trading, with benchmark crude for April
delivery declining 61 cents to $48.55 a barrel in electronic
trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

In currencies, the dollar rose to 98.47 yen from 98.22 yen late
Monday in New York, while the euro rose to $1.2996 from $1.2969.


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