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Asian shares turn lower as China rate hike weighs

Most Asian markets retreated Wednesday as investors digested an interest rate hike by China.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng index fell 0.4 percent 23,388.62 as early gains fizzled. Property developers fell sharply on concerns over Beijing's monetary tightening. Sino Land Co. tumbled 2.7 percent, and Hang Lung Properties Ltd. was down 2.7 percent.

South Korea's Kospi shed 1.2 percent to 2,045.69 ahead of an interest rate decision later this week by the Bank of Korea. Benchmarks in Taiwan and Singapore also fell.

Meanwhile, Japan's Nikkei 225 stock average rose 0.2 percent to 10,659.01, and Australia's S&P/ASX added 0.4 percent to 4,907.60.

Japanese automakers advanced, with Toyota Motor Corp. leading the way. The issue surged 4.6 percent after raising its full-year earnings forecasts Tuesday, citing booming sales in China and other emerging markets. It also benefited from a U.S. government report that ruled out electronic flaws in runaway Toyota vehicles.

In New York on Tuesday, the Dow Jones industrial average finished higher for the seventh consecutive day. Investors took in stride a move by China's central bank to control inflation by raising short-term interest rates.

The Dow rose 71.52 points, or 0.6 percent, to close at 12,233.15.

The broader Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 5.52, or 0.4 percent, to 1,324.57. The Nasdaq composite index rose 13.06, or 0.5 percent, to 2,797.05.

In currencies, the dollar slipped to 82.36 yen from 82.38 yen late Tuesday. The euro rose to $1.3634 from $1.3627.

Oil prices rose above $87 a barrel Tuesday in Asia after a report showed U.S. crude supplies unexpectedly fell last week, suggesting demand may be improving. Benchmark crude for March delivery rose 34 cents to $87.28 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.