Asia stocks gain from Alcoa earnings
Wednesday, January 09, 2013 Asia stocks gain from Alcoa earnings Most Asian stocks rose Wednesday as the earnings season got off to a positive start in the U.S., with Japanese shares staging a turnaround as the yen headed back down during the session. In Japan, the Nikkei 225 index restored 70.51 points, or 0.7%, to 10,578.57 In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index recovered 107.28 points, or 0.5%, to 23,218.47 The wide advances came after U.S. stocks ended broadly lower Tuesday, with investors on alert for corporate earnings and guidance ahead of results from aluminum major Alcoa Inc., which unofficially kicked off U.S. fourth-quarter earnings season after the close of trading. Alcoa’s shares climbed after hours after it said it swung to a fourth-quarter profit and expects global aluminum demand to grow 7% in 2013, compared with 6% in 2012. Alcoa’s Australian partner Alumina Ltd. rallied 4.6% in Sydney, while Alcoa’s Chinese aluminum rival Aluminum Corp. of China Ltd. rose 1.1% in Hong Kong. Other metal stocks gaining in Hong Kong included Maanshan Iron & Steel Co., up 1.5%; and Jiangxi Copper Co. higher by 0.2%. In Japan, construction machinery firms were notable advancers, with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd., rallying 5%, and Sumitomo Heavy Industries Ltd. improving by 4.9%. Japanese exporters mostly recovered from their early losses. Honda Motor Co. gained 1.6%, TDK Corp. up 5.3% and Mazda Motor Corp. rose 3.5%. The exporters retreated earlier in the week as the dollar gave up ground against the yen. Early Wednesday also saw the shares fall, as the greenback repeatedly dipped under the ¥87 level in Asia. But the U.S. unit then rallied back to ¥87.61 by late afternoon in Tokyo. Helping the yen ease Wednesday, reports emerged that the Bank of Japan plans to discuss doubling its inflation target and adding more funds to its asset-buying program. The yen had plunged — and Japanese stocks had rallied — since October, thanks to expectations that the country’s political leaders would prod the Bank of Japan to expand its asset-purchase program and further ease monetary policy. Elsewhere in Tokyo trading, Seven & I Holdings Co. added 1.8% after it posted a 16% gain for its nine-month profit and hiked its dividend outlook. Wireless telecom Softbank Corp. fell 2.1% after Sprint Nextel Corp’s plan to buy Clearwire Corp. was Tuesday challenged by a $5.15-billion U.S. rival offer from Dish Network Corp. Softbank has itself made an offer to buy Sprint. Ping An Insurance Group Co. dropped in early trade but recovered to end the day 0.9% higher. The stock’s early losses followed several reports that a deal previously agreed by HSBC Holdings PLC to sell its stake in the insurer was in jeopardy, as a Chinese lender who was financing the deal was backing away. HSBC shares slipped 0.1%. South Korean auto maker Hyundai Motor Co. dropped 1.2%, but electronics major LG Electronics Inc. declined 3.2% and steel giant Posco shed 0.8%. Over in Australia, investors once again bought into higher-yielding defensive firms on Wednesday, with supermarket operator Woolworths Ltd. up 1.5%. While the Australian Bureau of Statistics said Wednesday that overall Australian retail sales declined 0.1% in November, from a flat performance in October, a flat supermarket-sales result offered a relatively resilient picture for the sub-sector. Department store sales, in contrast, fell 0.4% and household goods sales declined 0.9%. Department-store owner Myer Holdings Ltd. traded down 2.7%, while furniture retailer Harvey Norman Holdings Ltd. fell 2.3% in Sydney. CHINA In China, however, Zoomlion Heavy Industry Science & Technology Co. fell 3.2% in Shenzhen and 6.4% in Hong Kong after the firm became the latest Chinese company to confront allegations of accounting irregularities. The Shanghai CSI 300 inched higher 0.80 points to 2,526.13 The firm denied the Tuesday report in the Ming Pao Daily, calling the allegations "false, groundless and misleading." Citi analysts said they were negative on Zoomlion and the construction-machinery industry generally due to slower concrete-machinery sales and a high 2012 sales base, as well as the potential for margin erosion, and high crane and excavator inventory "which might prevent these sub-markets from rebounding as fast as the Street expects in 2013." In other markets In Singapore, the Straits Times Index gained 14.89 points, or 0.5%, to 3,220.41 Korea’s Kospi Index dipped 6.13 points, or 0.3%, to 1,991.81 Taiwan’s Taiex Index added 16.98 points, or 0.2%, to 7,738.64 The NZX 50 gained 13.17 points, or 0.3%, to 4,103.54 Australia’s ASX Index tacked on 17.89 points, or 0.4%, to 4,708.14
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