Asia soars on China data
Friday, January 18, 2013 Asia soars on China data Asia markets finished with strong gains Friday, helped by Chinese economic data that beat forecasts, with Japan surging as the yen touched new multiyear lows. In Japan, the Nikkei 225 Index zoomed 303.66 points, or 2.9%, to 10,913.30 In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index soared 262.02 points, or 1.1%, to 23,601.78 The strong performance in Tokyo came on the back of a weaker yen, with the U.S. dollar buying ¥90.02 by the end of the Japanese stock session, trading around its highest level against the yen since the summer of 2010. Fueling the yen’s losses were indications the Bank of Japan will again ease policy at the end of its policy meeting early next Tuesday. The Nikkei business daily reported Friday that the central bank would add about ¥10 trillion ($110 billion U.S.) to its asset-buying program. It would mark the first time in more than nine years that the Bank of Japan has eased in two consecutive meetings, according to the Nikkei. Separately, Japanese Finance Minister Taro Aso said Friday after a meeting with Bank of Japan Gov. Masaaki Shirakawa that the government and central bank had yet to reach a deal over an inflation target. Reports and some analysts say the Bank of Japan will likely agree to calls for a firm 2% inflation target, up from a soft goal of 1% currently, to help combat deflation. Currency-sensitive exporters soared following the yen’s losses. Toshiba Corp. rallied 6.9%, Panasonic Corp. improved by 5.3%, Honda Motor Co. finished 3.2% higher, Advantest Corp. climbed 8.2%, and Tokyo Electron Ltd. rose 8.4%. Sony Corp. thundered 12.2% upward, getting an extra boost after announcing it had reached a deal to sell its U.S. headquarters, located on Manhattan’s Madison Avenue, for $1.1 billion U.S. Banks traded generally firmer in Hong Kong, as Bank of China Ltd. rose 2.5%, while China Minsheng Banking Corp. surged 5% and China Merchants Bank Co. rose 2.9%. Over in Australia, mining shares were strong, with Rio Tinto Ltd. surging 2.7% despite a 0.5% fall for its London shares Thursday. Late Thursday, Rio Tinto announced a $14-billion U.S. writedown against the value of its troubled aluminum division and some Mozambique coal assets, along with the departure of its Chief Executive Officer Tom Albanese. Rio’s rival BHP Billiton Ltd. rose a more modest 0.4%, while iron-ore extractor Fortescue Metals Group Ltd. jumped 3.2%, and uranium miner Paladin Energy Ltd. rallied 2.1%. In Seoul, financials were among the outperformers, with Hana Financial Group Inc. up 2.1% and Woori Finance Holdings Co. rising 3.8%. The gains in Asia came after Wall Street made a strong advance overnight, with the S&P 500 index hitting its highest finish since late 2007, thanks to upbeat U.S. jobless and housing reports. CHINA Meanwhile, Chinese shares traded solidly higher, though the above-forecast data had little immediate effect on the gains. The Shanghai CSI 300 recovered 42.68 points, or 1.7%, to 2,595.44 A half-hour into trading, the Chinese statistics bureau announced that fourth-quarter gross domestic product rose 7.9% from a year earlier, beating a 7.8% projection in separate Dow Jones Newswires and Reuters surveys. Separate December data helped support some sectors, as the statistics bureau reported retail sales rising 15.2%, above a Reuters forecast of 14.9%, while industrial output gained 10.3%, just above a 10.1% projection. Some retailers and major manufacturers enjoyed a strong boost after those numbers, with footwear major Belle International Holdings Ltd. adding 3.3%, auto maker BYD Co. ahead by 4.3%, and clothing retailer Esprit Holdings Ltd. up 2%. In Shanghai, real estate was a strong spot after separate Chinese data showed home prices in the major cities posting their biggest gain in almost two years during December. Among the top developers, Poly Real Estate Group Co. ended 5.5% higher, while Gemdale Corp. rose 2.9%. In other markets In Singapore, the Straits Times Index hiked 16.12 points, or 0.5%, to 3,211.22 Korea’s Kospi Index improved 13.58 points, or 0.7%, to 1,987.85 Taiwan’s Taiex Index spiked 116.23 points, or 1.5%, to 7,732.87 The NZX 50 slid 32.63 points, or 0.8%, to 4,164.18 Australia’s ASX Index gained 14.60 points, or 0.3%, to 4,771.23
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