Asian markets mostly advanced today, with Australian shares getting a lift from Rio Tinto's announcements of a bid to raise capital and a joint venture with BHP Billiton. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 was up 0.9%, Tokyo's Nikkei 225 climbed 1% and South Korea's Kospi Composite was up 1.2%. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index rose 1%, China's Shanghai Composite slid 0.5% and New Zealand shares added 0.7%. Taiwan's Taiex was down 0.3% and Singapore's Straits Times advanced 1.4%.
The Chinese Government is said to have orchestrated a boycott of Australian mining giants BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto, costing Australia millions in export profits and threatening a diplomatic battle. China's steel association said no official directive was issued and that steel companies decided for themselves.
Stocks closed a fraction higher in Japan and lower in Australia. Japan's Nikkei 225 Average recovered earlier losses to finish 0.8% higher. Australian shares finished 0.2% lower, led by mining giants BHP Billiton and its takeover target, Rio Tinto. Markets in Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan are closed until Monday. The Chinese market reopens Wednesday.
Japan's Fair Trade Commission has initiated discussions with its European and Australian counterparts about a possible investigation into the BHP Billiton acquisition of Rio Tinto, according to a report in the Asahi newspaper. The Iron and Steel Federation in Japan said the proposed merger would be anti-competitive. The deal would create a massive mining group with a market capitalization of about $350 billion.