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Asian Shares Gain As Oil Retreats

Asian shares rose notably on Tuesday as falling oil prices and signs of improvement in the U.S. housing market supported risk sentiment. Investors also cheered news that Germany's parliament has voted to approve a second package of financial aid for Greece.

Investors are looking ahead to the European Central Bank's second tranche of liquidity infusion on Wednesday after a similar successful operation in December. Crude futures for April delivery were marginally down below $109 a barrel while the euro advanced against most major peers ahead of a second injection of long-term cheap ECB money.

Tokyo stocks finished at a seven-month high, supported by hopes that the ECB's second long-term funding operation scheduled for Wednesday would drive risky assets higher for a sustained period of time. The Nikkei average rose 0.9 percent to its highest level since Aug. 2, 2011 while the broader Topix index ended 0.4 percent higher, rising for the fifth consecutive session.

Elpida Memory lost 24 percent to 254 yen after the company filed for bankruptcy protection yesterday following the market close. Exporters fell on profit-taking following a pause in the yen's slide both against the U.S dollar and the euro. DeNA jumped 4.4 percent after the mobile phone game site operator announced a partnership with a Chinese security software company.

Australian shares ended a choppy session modestly lower, with banks and energy shares pacing the declines. After swinging between gains and losses, both the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 and the broader All Ordinaries index ended the session down around 0.1 percent each.

Oil & gas producer Woodside edged down 0.7 percent and Linc Energy tumbled 4 percent after crude prices retreated for the first time in eight days. The big four banks ended down between 0.1 percent and 0.9 percent. Miners closed mixed, with BHP Billiton easing 0.2 percent, while Rio Tinto rose half a percent and Fortescue added 0.2 percent.

Telstra, Australia's top telephone company, rose 0.9 percent after the nation's competition watchdog said it had accepted the company's proposal to separate its business. Billabong lost 2.3 percent after the surfwear maker rejected a sweetened takeover offer from buyout firm TPG Capital. Boral fell 2.7 percent as the building products maker warned of tough housing market conditions. Shares of QBE were placed in a trading halt pending an announcement regarding some capital raising to be done within the quarter.

South Korea's Kospi average ended 0.6 percent higher on institutional buying, led by shipbuilders and chipmakers. Hynix Semiconductor, the world's second largest memory chip manufacturer, soared 6.8 percent and Samsung Electronics rose 1.2 percent after struggling Japanese rival Elpida Memory filed for bankruptcy protection.

Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering jumped 6.7 percent after saying its consortium with Technip had won a $560 million deal to build an oil production offshore platform fin Denmark. Samsung Heavy Industries soared 6.7 percent and Hyundai Heavy Industries rallied 5.4 percent. Exporters continued to decline, with automaker Hyundai Motor losing 0.7 percent on the perception that the weak yen trend would continue.

New Zealand shares rose, led by Goodman Fielder after Swiss bank UBS made a bid on behalf of Singapore's Wilmar International to buy a 10 percent stake in it. Shares of the Australian food ingredient maker soared 27 percent. The benchmark NZX-50 ended 0.2 percent higher.

Electronics component maker Rakon jumped 5.2 percent, insurer Tower rallied 4.8 percent and SkyCity Entertainment Group, the casino and hotel operator, added 2.5 percent, while carpet maker Cavalier tumbled 6.2 percent, New Zealand Oil & Gas, the energy exploration and production firm, fell 2 percent, construction firm Fletcher Building lost 0.8 percent and phone company Telecom eased 0.2 percent

Elsewhere, India's Sensex was last trading up 1.6 percent as foreign funds snapped up beaten down shares after a sell-off in the previous session.

China's Shanghai Composite index posted a modest 0.2 percent gain, Hong Kong's Hang Seng index climbed 1.7 percent, Indonesia's Jakarta Composite index rose 1.1 percent, Singapore's Straits Times added 0.8 percent and the Taiwan Weighted average edged up 0.3 percent, but Malaysia's KLSE Composite slipped 0.2 percent.

U.S. shares reversed early losses to end mostly higher overnight, with upbeat housing data, a pullback in crude prices and news that the German parliament has approved a second Greek aid package of 130 billion-euro rescue package contributing to the late-day recovery. The tech-heavy Nasdaq and the S&P 500 edged up around 0.1 percent each, but the Dow slipped marginally.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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