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Sydney sets record, Nasdaq fall weighs on techs

Written by: Staff
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HONG KONG, May 10 (Reuters) Australian stocks scaled a fresh peak on Wednesday as commodity-related shares soared, but weakness in major tech issues such as Samsung Electronics weighed on other Asian markets.

A profit warning by the world's biggest personal computer maker Dell Inc. had cast a shadow on U.S. tech stocks, but a strong rally in base metal prices helped lift the major miners such as BHP Billiton.

Investors were also cautious ahead of the U.S. Federal Reserve interest rate setting meeting due later on Wednesday.

While a rate hike is widely expected, markets are waiting to see if the central bank will signal a pause in its tightening cycle.

At 0025 GMT, Tokyo's Nikkei average had eased 0.47 percent as electronic components maker Kyocera, chip testing equipment maker Advantest Corp. and Casio Computer all fell.

''The Tokyo market will likely be pulled down by a fall in the Nasdaq, rather than getting a cheer from an extended gain in the Dow,'' said Tsuyoshi Segawa, equity strategist at Shinko Securities, adding that weakness in the U.S. dollar and the Fed meeting were also a concern.

Auto maker Toyota Motor Corp. was steady while Internet communications conglomerate Softbank Corp. gained 0.7 percent ahead of their respective results.

In South Korea, falls of 0.2 percent for Samsung Electronics and 0.9 percent for LG Electronics were offset by modest gains in financial counters such as top lender Kookmin Bank, helping keep the benchmark KOSPI little changed, down just 0.05 percent.

Hynix Semiconductor sagged 3.7 percent on expectations that its creditor banks would sell up to a 15 percent stake in the chip maker.

Bucking the weaker regional trend, Australia's key S&P/ASX 200 index rallied 1.43 percent to a new record as BHP Billiton climbed 2.9 percent, fellow global miner Rio Tinto added 2.5 percent and gold producer Newcrest Mining put on 2.4 percent.

Copper and zinc prices both hit record levels on the London Metal Exchange on Tuesday while aluminium rose to an 18-year peak as investors resumed their buying spree after a shaky start to the week.

On Wall Street, the blue-chip Dow rose 0.48 percent to its highest since Jan. 2000 and its second-highest close ever, but the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index shed 0.29 percent.

REUTERS PDS VP0712

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