Asia up ahead of U.S. jobs data
Friday, December 07, 2012 Asia up ahead of U.S. jobs data Asia stocks ended on a mostly upbeat note Friday, ahead of jobs data that’s expected to provide some more clues about the health of the U.S. economy. The Nikkei 225 Index in Japan shrank back 17.77 points, or 0.2%, to close out the week at 9,527.39 In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index fell 58.64 points, or 0.3%, to 22,191.17 Few markets had time to digest news of a powerful earthquake off Japan’s northern coast, which struck late in the trading day. Most major markets around the region had finished trade for the week when a 7.3-magnitude earthquake hit off the northeast coast of Japan, triggering a one-metre tsunami alert, although there were no reports any major damage and casualties by early evening. The temblor, centred more than 500 kilometres northeast of Tokyo, struck at 5.18 p.m. local time. Setting the tone for a bright day in Asia, U.S. shares recorded mild gains on Thursday. The advance came after weekly U.S. jobless claims fell to their lowest level in a month, giving investors eyeing negotiations over tax hikes and spending cuts some reason for optimism over the economy. The Japanese yen strengthened temporarily in the wake of the news, rising to 82.14 in the immediate wake of the temblor, but eased to 82.33 yen in recent action, little changed from the level seen before the quake. A positive trading debut by Chinese state-owned insurance giant People’s Insurance Co. (Group) of China, or PICC, helped the Hong Kong market to advance initially. PICC shares ended at 3.72 Hong Kong dollars, up 6.9% to from its IPO price of HK$3.48 a share, in the largest IPO to take place in Hong Kong for around two years. Prada SpA shares surged 10% to an all-time high after the Italian luxury products firm late Thursday reported third-quarter earnings that beat analyst estimates. Commodity-sector firms were among other notable gainers in Hong Kong, as oil, gold, silver and copper futures advanced in electronic trading, as Aluminum Corp. of China climbed 2.1% while PetroChina Co. climbed 0.4%. Hong Kong-listed shares of mainland property developers continued their record run with China Overseas Land & Investment ending up 2.4% while China Resources Land Ltd. was up 0.5%. Both stocks set fresh 52-week highs during intraday trade Friday. Banks helped support the Japanese market on Friday, with heavyweight Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group Inc. 1.8% after the firm was upgraded to overweight from equal weight at Morgan Stanley. The broker said that the lender appeared undervalued on a price-to-book basis and that the interest rate-sensitive stock should see upside amid rising rates. Rival Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc. climbed 1.3% while Nomura Holdings Inc. advanced 1.2%. Sharp Corp. rallied 8.5%, extending steep gains from Thursday when an official at potential investor Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. indicated talks between the firms were still on, according to reports. Hon Hai shares were up 1.1%. Still, losses for telecom providers KDDI Corp. and Softbank Corp. weighed, with KDDI down 3% and Softbank shares down 2.1%. Shares of NTT DoCoMo Inc. rallied 3.5%, helped by expectations the carrier will drop its opposition to providing the iPhone after November subscriber data showed the company customer base shrinking for the first time in five years. In South Korean trading, technology firms were among the notable gainers, as Sk Hynix Inc. jumped 4.2% while Samsung Electronics Co. rose 1.8%. The Australian market got a lift, as selected dividend-focused companies added to weekly gains, with banking giant Commonwealth Bank of Australia up 0.9% and blood-products group CSL Ltd. higher by 2.5% after an upgrade to outperform from neutral at Credit Suisse CHINA The Shanghai CSI 300 Composite Index jumped 43.16 points, or 2%, to 2,246.76 In mainland trading, cement firms gained, with Anhui Conch Cement Co. up 2.7% and Fujian Cement Inc. up 2.1% amid lingering optimism for ongoing government policies to support the Chinese economy. In other markets In Singapore, the Straits Times Index gained 28.91 points, or 0.9%, to 3,107.11 Korea’s Kospi index improved 7.83 points, or 0.4%, to 1,957.45 Taiwan’s Taiex Index recovered 19 points, or 0.3%, to 7,642.26 New Zealand’s NZX 50 tacked on 18.17 points, or 0.5%, to 4,041.53 Australia’s ASX Index improved 42.41 points, or 0.9%, to 4,551.76
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