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Asian markets wrestle between gains and losses

Asia-Pacific stocks started mixed Thursday, as a number of the region’s markets looked to extend four-day winning streaks.

So-called defensive stocks led Japan’s market higher, signaling market caution on U.S. trade, political and monetary-policy developments. The Nikkei NIK, +0.18%   was up 0.2%, but auto stocks lagged after Wednesday’s traded-fueled jump. Suzuki 7269, -4.01%   and auto-parts maker Denso 6902, -3.07%   dropped about 3%. Among big-cap movers, furniture retailer Nitori 9843, +3.53%   was up 3.1% while ground-transportation firm Yamato 9064, +2.45%   and health care-equipment maker Sysmex 6869, +1.91%   rose some 2%.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng HSI, -0.58%   opened lower, with smartphone-component makers AAC 2018, -3.62%   and Sunny Optical 2382, -1.11%  reversing some of this week’s rebound. Tencent 0700, +0.11%   was off 1%, but smartphone maker Xiaomi 1810, +2.49%   jumped 3% after its second-quarter report and insurer Ping An 2318, +2.13%   rose 1.5% to build on post-second-quarter gains.

Chinese stocks ticked up, with the Shanghai Composite SHCOMP, +0.01%   and Shenzhen Composite 399106, +0.35%   recovering from the previous day’s losses, led by financials and real estate while commodities names lagged.

Australia’s ASX 200 XJO, -0.34%   slipped, with Santos STO, +9.57%   and Qantas Airways QAN, -3.12%   among the biggest movers. New Zealand’s NZX 50 NZ50GR, -0.19%   was on track so snap a seven-session win streak, including record closing highs for the past three days. Air New Zealand AIR, -3.23%   falling 2% following its earnings report and Wednesday’s 3% jump in oil prices. .

South Korea’s Kospi SEU, -0.10%   was about flat, as Samsung 005930, -0.65%   retreated slightly. Taiwan’s Taiex Y9999, +0.18%   rose, as did benchmarks in Singapore STI, +1.45%  , Malaysia FBMKLCI, +0.48%  and Indonesia JAKIDX, +0.88%  , which were closed for holidays Wednesday.