Asia report: Markets mixed as Samsung bosses reject new structure
Markets in Asia finished mixed on Friday, as Samsung Electronics held a shareholder meeting without Jay Lee, and a key healthcare vote was delayed in the US.
In Japan, the Nikkei 225 was 0.93% higher at 19,262.52, with the yen remaining relatively strong against the greenback.
It was last marginally weaker, retreating 0.08% to JPY 111.03 per $1.
On the mainland, the Shanghai Composite was up 0.63% at 3,268.93, while the smaller Shenzhen Composite added 0.4% to 2,046.74.
South Korea's Kospi was down 0.17% at 2,168.95, as shareholders in Samsung Electronics gathered for the company’s first annual general meeting since the arrest of Jay Lee.
The Samsung Group heir was taken into custody over his alleged involvement in the cash-for-influence corruption scandal surrounding impeached president Park Geun-hye.
In its meeting, the technology giant told shareholders it would be a tough ask to adopt a holding company structure at the present time.
Chief executive Kwon Oh-hyun blamed the “negative effects that would arise from transitioning from a holding company”.
The structure was first proposed by US-based activist hedge fund Elliot Management, and had been under consideration by Samsung since November, as a way to improve the firm’s corporate governance.
Shares in Samsung Electronics fell 0.72% during the session.
In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng Index was up 0.13% at 24,358.27.
Traders in the special administrative region had their eyes on the Hong Kong Chief Executive election, being held on Sunday.
It would be the first election since the Umbrella Revolution pro-democracy protests were held in 2014.
Attention was also drawn stateside, as the ongoing battle to dismantle Obamacare continued, with President Trump failing to reach agreement with Republican politicians on how it could be achieved, delaying a vote in the House of Representatives.
Trump had hoped to secure the vote quickly, as it was being looked at by commentators as a barometer for the strength of his mandate.
Oil prices were higher during Asian trading, with Brent crude last up 0.37% at $50.75 per barrel and West Texas Intermediate adding 0.52% to $47.95.
Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 was up 0.8% at 5,753.54, with most subindexes finishing in the green apart from gold and industrials.
BHP Billiton was 0.29% higher in Sydney, as it emerged a long-running strike at its Escondida copper mine in Chile was looking to come to an end.
It was reported that worked were looking to invoke a seldom-used legal tool, which would allow them to extend their old contracts.
In New Zealand, the S&P/NZX 50 rose 0.2% to 7,073.83, with manuka honey producer Comvita adding 2.3% amid reports Chinese authorities were easing their restrictions on online trading in such products.
Comvita had struggled with an apparently thriving web-based grey market for its honey in China.
Chicken products producer Tegel was off 2.5%, as local analysts circulated rumours the chicken glut was continuing, putting downward pricing pressure on farmers and producers.
The down under dollars were both weaker, with the Aussie last retreating 0.14% to AUD 1.313 against the greenback and the Kiwi weakening 0.2% to NZD 1.4254 to $1.