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Asian Markets Advance On Receding Worries About Global Economy

4/17/2012 11:47 PM ET

Asian stock markets are trading higher on Wednesday, as better than expected U.S. earnings reports and a successful Spanish bond auction eased concerns about the outlook for the global economy. In addition, the International Monetary Fund raised its global growth projections for this year and next, citing improvements in the U.S. economy as well as emerging economies.

The Japanese stock market opened higher, tracking the overnight gains on Wall Street. Meanwhile, the yen's slight decline against the dollar and the euro lifted export-oriented stocks.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index ended the morning session at 9,622.39, up 157.68 points or 1.67 percent.

Shares of Mitsui OSK Lines gained more than 3 percent after the Nikkei business daily reported that the shipping company's net loss for the year ended March was likely to be 28 billion yen, an improvement on the company's previous forecast for a loss of 29 billion yen. Shares of peer Kawasaki Kishen also rose more than 3 percent, while Nippon Yusen KK added more than 2 percent.

Trading firms Mitsubishi Corp. and Mitsui & Co. are gaining more than 2 percent each. The companies said Tuesday they will start talks with a U.S. energy company about importing liquified natural gas or LNG from 2016.

Shares of Toshiba TEC Corp. rose 6 percent. The company said Tuesday that it will buy IBM Corp.'s retail store point-of-sale solutions business for about $850 million. Toshiba TEC, a subsidiary of Toshiba Corp., makes point-of-sale systems and related technology for retailers.

Canon is up more than 3 percent and Hitachi is gaining 3.4 percent, while Sony is down 0.57 percent.

Among automakers, Toyota is gaining 2.6 percent and Honda is rising 3.5 percent.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar was trading in the lower 81 yen-range on Wednesday. In late morning trades, the dollar was quoted in a range of 81.33 to 81.36 yen, up 0.76 yen from Tuesday's close of 80.57-80.59 yen in Tokyo.

The Australian stock market opened more than one percent higher on receding worries over the Eurozone debt crisis following a successful Spanish bond auction.

In late morning trades, the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is adding 55.60 points or 1.30 percent to 4,344.40 and the broader All Ordinaries Index is gaining 53.40 points or 1.22 percent to 4,421.90.

In the mining sector, BHP Billiton is advancing 1.65 percent, while Rio Tinto is gaining more than 2.5 percent and Fortescue Metals is adding 1.55 percent.

BHP Billiton said that its production of iron ore and metallurgical coal for the third quarter increased from last year, but declined from the preceding quarter due to bad weather and industrial disputes.

Among banks, ANZ is advancing 1.30 percent, Commonwealth Bank is adding 1.14 percent, Westpac is gaining 0.82 percent and National Australia Bank is up 1.41 percent.

Bank of Queensland reported a first-half loss of A$90.6 million after it incurred a substantial charge on soured loans. This compares to a profit of A$48 million in the previous corresponding period. However, the company's stock is adding more than 2 percent.

In the energy space, Origin Energy is gaining 1.32 percent and Oil Search is adding 1.01 percent.

Australian mall operator Westfield Group will sell eight shopping centres in the U.S. for $1.15 billion. The company said Starwood Capital Group LLC would own the majority interest in seven of the centres while the eighth, Eastland, is being sold in a separate transaction.

In economic news, Australia will on Wednesday see the February results of the Westpac leading index. The index was up 0.6 percent on month in January.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar was trading higher against the U.S. dollar following news of a successful Spanish bond auction. In mid-morning trades, the local unit was trading at US$1.0401, up from US$1.0314 on Tuesday afternoon.

Among other markets in the region, South Korea, Singapore, Shanghai, Taiwan, Hong Kong, New Zealand and Malaysia are also trading in positive territory.

On Wall Street, stocks moved sharply higher during trading on Tuesday as traders reacted positively to news out of Europe as well as the latest batch of quarterly results. The rally on Wall Street, which came after stocks ended the previous session mixed, was also partly due to news of a successful Spanish debt auction.

The Dow jumped 194.13 points or 1.5 percent to 13,115.54, the Nasdaq soared 54.42 points or 1.8 percent to 3,042.82 and the S&P 500 surged up 21.21 points or 1.6 percent to 1,390.78.

The major European markets also moved sharply higher over the course of the trading on Tuesday. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index surged up by 1.8 percent, the German DAX Index and the French CAC 40 Index both jumped by 2.7 percent.

U.S. crude oil futures closed higher on Tuesday on global cues, with some encouraging economic data that showed economic sentiment in Germany improved for the fifth straight month, while Spain's treasury bill auction saw strong demand although at a higher cost. An improving U.S. equity market also nudged oil prices.

Crude for May delivery gained $1.27 or 1.2 percent to close at $104.20 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange on Tuesday.

by RTT Staff Writer

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