The Hong Kong stock market has closed higher in two of three trading days since the end of the three-day losing streak in which it had retreated almost 75 points or 0.4 percent. The Hang Seng Index finished just below the 23,670-point plateau, and now investors are looking for another strong start when the market kicks off trade on Wednesday.
The global forecast for the Asian markets is upbeat thanks to positive earnings figures and encouraging news regarding the budget woes in Washington. On the earnings front, DuPont, Travelers and Delta Air Lines all posted solid quarterly results. Also, President Barack Obama agreed to a bill that would tie an increase in the debt limit to the passage of a budget. The European markets were mixed and the U.S. bourses were higher, and the Asian markets figure to split the difference.
The Hang Seng finished modestly higher on Tuesday as gains from the finance, industry and utility stocks were capped by weakness from the property sector.
For the day, the index added 68.08 points or 0.29 percent to finish at 23,658.99 after trading between 23,498.96 and 23, 685.55 on turnover of 72.47 billion Hong Kong dollars.
Among the actives, Hang Seng Bank collected 0.17 percent, China Construction Bank gained 0.76 percent, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China jumped 1.19 percent, Bank of Communications was up 0.63 percent, Bank of China added 0.27 percent, Sinopec gathered 0.65 percent and PetroChina rose 0.36 percent, while China Unicom fell 0.92 percent, HSBC shed 0.12 percent, Cheung Kong dipped 0.54 percent and Bank of East Asia lost 0.64 percent.
The lead from Wall Street is positive as stocks moved higher on Tuesday, extending a recent move to the upside. The markets benefited from a positive reaction to the latest earnings news, although stocks initially were lackluster as traders expressed uncertainty about the outlook for the markets following the recent strength.
The latest batch of earnings news eventually some buying interest, with DuPont (DD), Travelers (TRV), and Delta Air Lines (DAL) all posting gains after reporting quarterly results.
Shares of DuPont rose by 1.8 percent after the chemical giant reported fourth quarter earnings that fell year-over-year but came in above analyst estimates. The company also forecast better than expected results in 2013.
Insurance giant Travelers ended the day up by 2.2 percent after reporting fourth quarter earnings that came in well above expectations. Delta advanced by 2.9 percent after its fourth quarter adjusted earnings matched estimates.
On the other hand, shares of Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) were down after the health care giant reported better than expected fourth quarter earnings but provided disappointing guidance.
The markets may have also benefited from a statement from the White House indicating that President Obama would not oppose a House Republican bill that would tie a short-term increase in the debt limit to the passage of a budget. The House is scheduled to vote on the bill later today.
Meanwhile, traders largely shrugged off a report from the National Association of Realtors showing an unexpected drop by existing home sales in December.
The major U.S. averages finished at their best levels of the day as the Dow rose 62.43 points or 0.5 percent to finish at 13,712.13, while the NASDAQ climbed 8.47 points or 0.3 percent to end at 3,143.18 and the S&P 500 advanced 6.53 points or 0.4 percent to close at 1,492.51. With the gains, the Dow and the S&P 500 reached new five-year closing highs, while the NASDAQ hit its best closing level in three months.
In economic news, China will on Wednesday see the December results for the Conference Board's leading and coincident indexes; in November, they were up 1.1 percent and 0.9 percent, respectively.
Also, China's fiscal revenue growth slowed in 2012 compared to the previous year, the Ministry of Finance said on Tuesday. Fiscal revenue rose 12.8 percent in 2012 to CNY 11.7 trillion. This was weaker than the 24.8 percent growth in 2011. According to the ministry, fiscal expenditure rose 15.1 percent to CNY 12.57 trillion last year. As a result, the budget deficit came in at CNY 850.2 billion.
by RTT Staff Writer
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