Oct 19, 2012
Asian Markets at Close Report | MarketWatch -October 18, 2012-: Asia stocks hold to tight ranges after gains
By Sarah Turner, MarketWatch
SYDNEY (MarketWatch) — Asia stocks held in tight ranges on Friday but were on track for solid weekly gains, with Hong Kong and Tokyo inching higher.
Japan’s Nikkei Stock Average JP:100000018 +0.22% traded up 0.1%, after gaining 5.3% over the last four sessions. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 index AU:XJO +0.26% edged up 0.2% while South Korea’s Kospi KR:SEU -0.78% fell 0.9%.
In China, the Shanghai Composite index CN:000001 -0.16% slipped 0.1% while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index HK:HSI +0.15% HK:HSI +0.15% advanced 0.3%.
HK:HSI +0.15% Asia stocks gained solidly on Thursday following key Chinese economic data that either met or exceeded economist expectations and underpinned hopes for an improvement in the world’s second-largest economy.
For Friday’s session markets were mixed as risk appetite waned going into the weekend, according to Stan Shamu, strategist at IG Markets.
“The leads from U.S. trade haven’t done much for sentiment as investors look for any excuse to sell at these elevated levels,” he said.
U.S. stocks closed with losses on Thursday, after Google Inc.’s GOOG -8.01% weaker-than-expected results pushed the technology sector into the red. Read more on Thursday's U.S. stock market action.
Investors were also on alert as a two-day European Union summit got underway in Brussels, although expectations were low for any major developments.
After the first day of the summit wrapped up, European leaders flagged progress in Greece toward meeting its austerity targets but also said that Greece’s institutional lenders were still reviewing the country’s situation.
The yen USDJPY -0.06% continued to weaken on Friday, as the dollar bought 79.34 yen, up from ¥79.25 in late trading Thursday.
Japanese exporters have had a strong run this week and some firms gained again on Friday, with Honda Motor Co. JP:7267 +1.10% HMC +2.07% up 0.9% while NEC Corp. JP:6701 +10.48% NIPNF +5.96% surged 9.7% after a Nikkei report that the firm likely earned a six-month operating profit of around 40 billion yen, which would far surpass forecasts.
Investors were selling out of Tokyo-listed consumer staples firms, however, with Japan Tobacco Inc. JP:2914 -1.61% JAPAF +0.85% down 1.4% and Kirin Holdings Co. JP:2503 -2.23% KNBWY -1.30% down 2.2%.
Australian investors were pulling out of banks, with Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. AU:ANZ -1.12% ANEWF +1.34% ANEWF +1.34% down 1.1%. National Australia Bank Ltd. AU:NAB -2.71% NAUBF +1.33% fell 2.7% after stating that its fiscal-year cash earnings were expected to be in line with 2011 figures while it raised provision levels.
In Hong Kong, however, China Construction Bank Corp. HK:939 0.00% CICHY -0.33% rose 0.9%, while Bank of China Ltd. HK:3988 +0.32% BACHY +0.20% rose 1%, with the firms adding to gains made recently after a unit of China’s sovereign-wealth fund said it will continue to buy shares in major lenders.
“The upside risk to earnings comes from the stabilization in the economy, acceleration in total credit and a revival of the property market,” said Credit Suisse banking-sector analysts who have an overweight rating on Chinese banks.
Some Chinese commodity-sector firms were extending post-data gains made Thursday, with Aluminium Corp. of China Ltd. HK:2600 +0.56% ACH +0.43% CN:601600 +0.39% up 0.8% in Hong Kong. The shares turned lower in Shanghai to trade down 0.2%.
In Australia, mining heavyweights were on the move with BHP Billiton Ltd. AU:BHP +1.27% BHP +0.97% up 1.3% and rival Rio Tinto Ltd. AU:RIO +0.70% RIO +0.25% up 0.7%.
In South Korean trading, heavyweight technology firm Samsung Electronics Inc. KR:005930 +0.07% SSNLF +3.31% fell 2%, with the move working to pressure the Kospi.
Sarah Turner is MarketWatch's bureau chief in Sydney.
Oct 18, 2012
Asian Markets at Close Report | MarketWatch -October 18, 2012: Tokyo, Shanghai rise as China data reassures
HONG KONG (MarketWatch)—Asia stocks gained Thursday, led by an advance in Japanese shares, while mainland China stocks also charged higher after quarterly growth data met expectations, while separate September data pointed to an improvement in the world’s second-largest economy.
Japan’s Nikkei Stock Average JP:100000018 +2.00% surged 2% to lead the region amid more weakness for the yen, while the Shanghai Composite Index CN:000001 +1.24% followed with a 1.2% gain.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index HK:HSI +0.48% improved 0.5%, Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 index AU:XJO +0.69% finished up 0.7%, while South Korea’s Kospi KR:SEU +0.20% advanced just 0.2%.
The Asia Dow was up 0.9%.
China’s gross domestic product grew 7.4% in the third quarter, meeting forecasts from separate polls by Dow Jones Newswires and Reuters, but marking the slowest pace since early 2009.
Along with the GDP figures, industrial output for September rose 9.2% year-on-year, accelerating from 8.9% in August, while retail sales gained 14.2%, up from August’s 13.2% rise.
RBC Asset Management Asia fund manager Yoji Takeda in Hong Kong said Japanese stocks were driven higher in a catch-up rally after upbeat China data, along with good news on the U.S. housing front.
“There is a general risk on trend globally,” Takeda said.
Sharp gains in the Tokyo share index Thursday, Takeda said, could be partly explained by “portfolio shifts” as global fund managers, who as a general rule have been heavily underweight Japan, seek to bring regional share market allocations back into balance.
Hopes of a more aggressive policy stance from the Bank of Japan helped underpin gains in property-related stocks, according to Takeda, who said prospects of a new government taking over in Tokyo in the near future was also a factor driving the market advance.
The Chinese economic data also helped lift the regional mood.
Apple contractor says it hired teens Hon Hai Precision Industry acknowledges that it hired underage workers at one of its China plants, in the latest hit to the labor practices of the major contractor for Apple and other electronic giants.
“Growth in the third quarter could mark the trough,” said Ting Lu, China economist at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. Read: China’s GDP growth slows but may mark bottom.
Yao Wei, economist at Société Générale, said that the September activity data provided solid confirmation of bottoming-out.
“All the three main series surprised on the upside, echoing the good export figures released earlier,” she said.
The data follow comments made a day earlier by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, who said that the Chinese economy was in reasonable shape in the third quarter and is expected to reach its fiscal-year targets, according to reports.
Growth-tied commodity-sector firms were performing well on Thursday in Hong Kong, with Aluminum Corp. of China Ltd. HK:2600 +2.28% ACH +4.41% up 2.3%, while Jiangxi Copper Co. HK:358 +3.98% JIXAY +5.38% jumped 4%, China Shenhua Energy Co. HK:1088 +2.15% CUAEF +7.05% rose 2.2% and China Petroleum & Chemical Corp., or Sinopec, HK:386 +1.61% SNP +3.07% gained 1.6%.
Share-price gains for metal-related firms were sharper in Japan, where Kobe Steel Ltd. JP:5406 +4.48% KBSTY +6.70% climbed 4.5% and Pacific Metals Co. JP:5541 +4.85% PFMTF -2.70% jumped 4.9%.
China is a key customer for many Australian miners, and the sector climbed, with heavyweight Rio Tinto Ltd. AU:RIO +4.80% RIO +4.63% surging 4.8% and rival BHP Billiton Ltd. AU:BHP +3.32% BHP +3.06% ahead by 3.3%.
Early strength in Asia Thursday followed an uptick on Wall Street on Wednesday, after data indicated that the U.S. housing market continues to improve. Read more on housing lift for U.S. stocks.
Hong Kong’s U.S.-exposed exporters were advancing, with Li & Fung Ltd. HK:494 +4.40% LFUGY +1.95% up 4.4%, and Foxconn International Holdings Ltd. HK:2038 +3.40% FXCNF +1.28% adding 3.4%.
Next Media HK:282 +41.07% jumped 41% in Hong Kong after the media conglomerate sold its television and print operations in Taiwan for HK$4.64 billion ($600 million), exceeding the market capitalization of the company, even as it retained its profitable Hong Kong operations.
The dollar USDJPY +0.3561% traded at ¥79.64 late Thursday in East Asia, up from ¥79.03 late Wednesday and ¥78.91 on Tuesday. The euro EURJPY +0.3181% bought ¥103.77, after hitting a one-month high against the yen Wednesday.
Also pressuring the yen, the Nikkei reported that the Bank of Japan may introduce more monetary-easing moves at its next policy meeting.
Exporters extended their gains Thursday in Tokyo, as Sony Corp. JP:6758 +2.82% SNE +1.92% rose 2.8% and Renesas Electronics Corp. JP:6723 +6.41% RNECY -4.40% surged 6.4%.
Toyota Motor Corp. JP:7203 +2.45% TM +0.87% improved by 2.5%. Nissan Motor Co. JP:7201 +3.41% NSANY -1.72% climbed 3.4% while Honda Motor Co. JP:7267 +3.99% HMC 0.00% rose 4%.
Mitsui & Co. JP:8031 +4.77% MITSY -0.41% advanced 4.8% after a Nikkei report that the firm made about ¥5 billion ($63 million) in the period from April to September from the sale of shares in Nihon Unisys Ltd. Stock in Nihon Unisys JP:8056 +1.30% was up 1.3%.
In Korean trading, shipbuilders STX Pan Ocean Co. KR:028670 +5.82% fell 0.9% and Hanjin Shipping Co. KR:117930 +3.88% added 2.2%.
But heavyweight Samsung Electronics Inc. KR:005930 +0.45% SSNLF +3.31% traded mainly flat, rising 0.1%.
Shares of China Life Insurance Co. HK:2628 -1.09% fell 1.1% in Hong Kong, however, after the company said that its nine-month net profit is expected to fall 55% due to a decline in investment yields and higher impairment charges. Read: China Life set to report Q3 loss on weak markets .
Thai stocks were higher in afternoon trade on Thursday, with investors taking heart after the Bank of Thailand lowered it main policy rate in a surprise quarter-point move late Wednesday. The Thai SET index was up 0.7% late.
Sarah Turner is MarketWatch's bureau chief in Sydney. Chris Oliver is MarketWatch's Asia bureau chief, based in Hong Kong.
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