Hong Kong leads Asian markets higher on Alibaba boost
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Asian stocks were broadly up on Wednesday to buck losses on Wall Street, led by massive gains for Chinese tech behemoth Alibaba after it announced it would split into six business groups.
The Hangzhou-based firm said the changes were intended to "unlock shareholder value and foster market competitiveness".
Alibaba is one of China's most prominent tech firms, with operations spanning cloud computing, e-commerce, logistics, media and entertainment, and artificial intelligence.
By 10 am Wednesday (0200 GMT), its Hong Kong-listed shares were up by nearly 14 percent. Its New York-listed shares were also up in the previous session.
"Investors could get hyped on the positive side in the short term," said Willer Chen, senior research analyst at Forsyth Barr Asia.
"Alibaba's shakeup plan may also lead investors to think of the potential for other tech firms like Tencent to follow suit."
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Tencent and Baidu also advanced, as did Tokyo-listed Softbank, which owns a large stake in Alibaba.
By mid-morning, the Hang Seng Index was up by more than two percent.
In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 was up by just under half a percentage point, while Taipei and Bangkok also rose.
Shanghai and Sydney posted small losses.
Following a flattish day on European bourses Tuesday, US stock indices finished modestly lower, shrugging off a better-than-expected consumer confidence reading.
The closely watched consumer confidence index increased in March to 104.2 from 103.4 last month, The Conference Board said in a statement.
"While consumers feel a bit more confident about what's ahead, they are slightly less optimistic about the current landscape," said Ataman Ozyildirim, senior director for economics at The Conference Board.
All three major US indices declined, with the S&P 500 losing 0.2 percent.
The gains followed last week's rout over concerns that the turmoil in the sector -- which sparked the UBS takeover of Credit Suisse -- could hit other major institutions, such as German giant Deutsche Bank.
Bank of England governor Andrew Bailey, whose institution ramped up interest rates last week, sounded a note of caution over banking-sector upheaval.
"We are very vigilant. We are in a period of tension, tightness and alertness," he told a parliamentary committee on Tuesday.
He added: "My very strong view about the UK banking system is that it is in a strong position, both capital and liquidity wise."
Key figures around 0215 GMT
Tokyo - Nikkei 225: UP 0.39 percent at 27,625.99
Hong Kong - Hang Seng Index: UP 2.06 percent at 20,191.68
Shanghai - Composite: DOWN 0.16 percent at 3,240.21
London - FTSE 100: UP 0.2 percent at 7,484.25 (close)
New York - Dow: DOWN 0.1 percent at 32,394.25 (close)
Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.0839 from $1.0850
Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.2328 from $1.2341
Euro/pound: UP at 87.92 from 87.89 pence
Dollar/yen: UP at 131.63 yen from 130.90 yen
West Texas Intermediate: UP 0.59 percent at $73.63 per barrel
Brent North Sea crude: UP 0.33 percent at $78.91 per barrel
-- Bloomberg News contributed to this story --
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