Asian shares mostly lower, Shanghai hit by IPO fears

HONG KONG (AFP) - Asian markets mostly fell on Monday, with Tokyo hit by profit-taking, while Shanghai tumbled on expectations China will restart initial public offerings in the new year, raising fears of a share glut.

Investors seemed broadly unmoved by upbeat figures showing Chinese manufacturing continuing to expand in November.

Tokyo ended flat, edging down 6.80 points, to 15,655.07, a second successive loss after hitting a near six-year high on Thursday. Sydney fell 0.76 per cent, or 40.5 points, to 5,279.5, its lowest close in seven weeks and Seoul lost 0.69 per cent, or 14.09 per cent, to end at 2,030,78.

Shanghai lost 0.59 per cent, or 13.13 points, to 2,207.37 but Hong Kong was up 0.38 per cent in the afternoon.

There was little influence from Wall Street, which was closed on Thursday and half of Friday for the Thanksgiving holiday. The Dow and S&P 500 were flat while the Nasdaq rose 0.37 per cent.

HSBC said Monday that its index of manufacturing activity in China came in above forecasts for November, providing hope that the recent pick-up in the economy can be sustained. The banking giant said its China purchasing managers' index (PMI) sat at 50.8 last month, which while down from 50.9 in October is much better than the 50.4 initially estimated on November 21.

Anything above 50 is considered growth and anything below indicates contraction.

The data comes a day after China's own official index came in at 51.4 for November, unchanged from October. It was up from 51.1 in September and the highest since reaching 53.3 in April 2012.

The positive sentiment fuelled by the PMIs was offset by expectations China will soon lift a 13-month ban on initial public offerings, which investors fear could dilute the market. Beijing at the weekend unveiled guidelines on changes to the way companies list as well as new rules that allow those already listed on the stock market to find new ways to raise cash.

The overhaul blueprint suggests an imminent restart of the country's IPO market, where more than 760 firms are queuing for listings. The China Securities Regulatory Commission, which issued the guidelines, said companies might begin listing as soon as January.

Japan's Nikkei fell for a second straight session after closing on Thursday at a near six-year high. The index saw further selling pressure as investors cashed in profits while the yen edged up against the dollar. In afternoon trade the dollar fetched 102.40 yen, against 102.42 yen in New York Friday.