Asia survives choppy session to move mostly higher
Friday, February 01, 2013 Asia survives choppy session to move mostly higher Most Asian stocks overcame choppy movements to end higher Friday, as investors remained optimistic about the Chinese economic outlook despite a mild disappointment over official data on the country’s manufacturing sector. Japanese shares finished higher as the yen fell to multi-year lows against the euro and the U.S. dollar, while mainland Chinese stocks rebounded from early weakness on an afternoon rally in banking shares. In Japan, the Nikkei 225 Index gained 52.68 points, or 0.5%, to 11,191.34 In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index stepped back 7.69 points to 23,721.84 The advance in Tokyo came as the dollar climbed as high as ¥92.28, a level not seen since June 2010, rising from late Thursday’s ¥91.46. Data released earlier in the day showed Japan’s unemployment rate increased to 4.2% in December, while household spending declined. A slew of positive earnings reports or news also helped the market. Softbank Corp. jumped 5.7% after posting doubling profits for the October-December period. NEC Corp. surged 8.5% after also posting strong results. Sharp Corp. soared 5.8% after a Nikkei news report that strong smartphone earnings allowed the company to swing back to an operating profit in the October-December quarter. On the downside, shares of Nomura Holdings Inc. dropped 2.7%, on profit-taking following gains of more than 80% since mid-November, despite news that the securities broker had posted a more-than-sevenfold rise in October-December profit from the preceding quarter. Also losing ground, TDK Corp. fell 6.8%, and Kyocera Corp. 1.8%, after both firms downgraded fiscal-year profit guidance. Shares of Honda Motor Co. rose 0.3% on the weakened yen, but underperformed the market after the auto maker also cut its fiscal-year profit forecast. CHINA Banking stocks climbed on mainland Chinese bourses after a local media report said lending at China’s four biggest state-owned banks rose in January. The Shanghai CSI 300 muscled up 56.44 points, or 2.1%, to 2,743.32, after an official gauge of manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index slipped to 50.4 in January from December’s 50.6. A separate PMI measure from HSBC climbed to 52.3 from 51.5 in December, rising further above the 50-point level, which indicates an expansion in activity. Agricultural Bank of China Ltd. climbed 2%, while China Construction Bank Corp. and Bank of China Ltd. each rose 1.6%. In other markets In Singapore, the Straits Times Index hiked 8.48 points, or 0.3%, to 3,291.14 Korea’s Kospi Index fell 4.15 points, or 0.2%, to 1,957.79 Taiwan’s Taiex Index added 5.95 points, or 0.1%, to 7,855.57 The NZX 50 dropped 6.71 points, or 0.2%, to 4,245.93 In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 grew 42.32 points, or 0.9%, to end the week at 4,873.70
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