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Asian Markets at Close Report

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Jan 25, 2017

Asian Markets at Close Report on January 25, 2017: Japan's Nikkei Jumps as Asian Stocks Tick Upward


 
Kenan Machado 
Asian stocks rose Wednesday amid improved risk sentiment from both regional economic data and overnight gains in the U.S. for both stocks and the dollar.

The greenback, though, reversed some of that advance versus the yen USDJPY, -0.13%  in Asian trading, retreating from near ¥114 in the morning to spend much of the session below ¥113.70.
But that didn’t cut into Japan stocks, with the Nikkei NIK, +1.43% holding gains of at least 1% throughout the day and finishing up 1.4% after setting a 7-week closing low Tuesday.
It was the index’s best day since the 2.5% pop logged in 2017’s opening session and part of a sea of green for Asian stocks as investors decided today was a day to be upbeat by prospects of what a Trump administration may bring.
Gains elsewhere, though, were notably more muted.
That includes Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 XJO, +0.38%  rising 0.4% as mining heavyweights Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton saw shares reach levels not seen in some time.
Rio RIO, +3.81%   closed up 3.8% in reaching 2 1/2-year highs amid a $2.45 billion deal to sell part of its coal business to a Chinese company.
Unloading its thermal-coal assets helped improve sentiment, said Ric Spooner, chief market analyst at CMC Markets, as the company “looks to have extracted good value from the resurgence in coal prices.” It’s “seen as a sensible exit from an industry in long-term decline.”
BHP BHP, +3.26%   climbed 3.1% to its best level since June 2015 as it cut annual production guidance but stuck with prior predictions for other products. Copper prices rose nearly 2% on the London Metal Exchange amid broad gains in metals as investors bet on increased infrastructure spending in the U.S.
Stocks in Australia, as well as India and Vietnam, are closed Thursday for holidays while many more related to the Lunar New Year begin Friday.
Elsewhere, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index HSI, +0.43% was up 0.3% minutes ahead of the end of trading there and Korea’s Kospi SEU, +0.06%   added 0.1% as that country’s economy grew faster than expected in the fourth quarter. In other economic data, Japan’s exports rose from a year earlier in December, the first-such increase in 15 months.

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Meanwhile, Chinese stocks shed early softness which came amid the country’s central bank hiking the rate on its medium-term lending facility by 10 basis points. The move effectively was a signal to the market that it has a tightening bias.
The Shanghai Composite SHCOMP, +0.22%  rose 0.2% and while the tech-heavy ChiNext index climbed 0.5%. This as trading volumes slide as the week-long Chinese New Year holiday nears.
“Before the holiday, investors do not have much incentive to enter into the market,” said Hannah Li, a stock strategist with broker UOB Kay Hian in Hong Kong.
This comes as what’s been a tough month for Chinese stocks. The ChiNext is down 4.7% for January as new-economy stocks in fast-growing sectors such as technology and software, as well as some consumption sectors, have lagged the rally seen in materials and utilities.