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Shanghai Stock Market Falls After Quake

One day after a giant earthquake in south China, shares on the mainland fell nearly 2%, but markets elsewhere in Asia were unaffected as traders mulled the possibility that a months-long global financial crisis could be nearing an end.

In China, the Shanghai Composite Index fell 67 points, or 1.8%, to 3560.24, while in Hong Kong, the Hang Seng climbed 490 points, or 2%, to 25,552.77. In Japan, the Nikkei gained 210 points, or 1.5%, to 13,953.73 as the yen plunged to 104.51 from 103.83 previously.

"The Hang Seng closed at a day high. Despite some negative impact regarding the earthquake on some of the China stocks, investors are buying on the dips," says Brooke Babington, a director at Helmsman Global Trading in Hong Kong.

Leading gainers in Hong Kong was market heavyweight China Mobile (CHL), as most investors shrugged off reports that the company lost around 2,300 base stations in the earthquake, and bet instead that the Hang Seng is ready for another rally. China Mobile rose 3% to HK$133, and rival China Netcom (CN) added 0.4% to HK$25.60, after the company said that it will expand Internet services in more than 10 cities in China this year.

Hang Seng proxy Hong Kong Exchanges (HKXCF) was also the recipient of heavy buying, ahead of earnings announcements for the first quarter due out Wednesday. Analysts expect the company to announce up to an 84% increase in earnings on the year, at HK$1.7 billion ($218 million). The stock climbed 2.4% to HK$153.80.

Also among financials, HSBC Holdings (HBC) said that it registered $3.2 billion in loan-impairment charges during the first quarter for its U.S. consumer finance business. HSBC rose 2% to HK$135.50, and was the day's most actively traded stock.

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