Asian stocks rose broadly for a second consecutive session on Monday, with optimism about China's growth prospects and easing fears regarding an imminent pull-back of the U.S. stimulus supporting sentiment. U.S. new-home sales fell by the most in more than three years in July, data from the Commerce Department showed on Friday, easing speculation that the Federal Reserve might begin tapering as early as next month.
Chinese shares led the gainers, with the Shanghai Composite rallying 1.9 percent on optimism about economic growth in the world's second-largest economy. Brokerage stocks led the gainers following recent losses. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index gained 0.7 percent.
The Chinese economy is showing signs of stabilizing and also of further growth, media reports quoted Sheng Laiyun, a spokesperson of the National Bureau of Statistics, as saying at a news briefing. Sheng downplayed concerns regarding the country's local government debt and expressed confidence that the economy will attain the growth target of 7.5 percent this year.
Japanese shares eased slightly in thin trading after Friday's sharp rally. The Nikkei average slid 0.2 percent, while the broader Topix index shed 0.1 percent. Heavyweights SoftBank and KDDI fell half a percent and 2 percent, respectively, on speculation that NTT DoCoMo is getting closer to selling iPhones. Tech stock Tokyo Electron dropped 1.4 percent, automaker Suzuki Motor lost 1.9 percent on a weaker dollar and Tokyo Electric Power plummeted almost 7 percent on fears over fresh leaks at its crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant.
Real estate firm Mitsui Fudosan added a percent and Sumitomo Realty & Development rallied 3.5 percent ahead of a meeting of the International Olympic Committee next month in Buenos Aires to select the host city for the 2020 Summer Olympics.
Bank of Japan's bond-buying effort has started to exert effects on the world's third-largest economy, lifting stock prices and putting downward pressure on nominal interest rates in Japan in a rising global rate environment, Governor Haruhiko Kuroda said at a meeting of central bankers in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. In economic releases, Japan's corporate service price index increased at a steady pace in July, data published by the Bank of Japan revealed. Prices rose 0.4 percent in July compared to last year, matching expectations.
Australian shares posted modest gains in relatively thin trading on easing stimulus worries. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.2 percent to 5,135, led by gains in banks. NAB, ANZ, Commonwealth and Westpac rose between 0.3 percent and 0.7 percent. Global miners BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto slipped about 0.2 percent each after rising earlier in the session.
Newcrest Mining soared nearly 5 percent after gold prices rose above $1,400 an ounce for the first time since early June last week. Boart Longyear plunged 11.7 percent after the world's largest drilling company posted a half-yearly net loss of A$329 million amid a mining sector slowdown.
South Korea's Kospi average rose nearly a percent to a one-week closing high, helped by some tentative signs of stability in emerging markets and currencies following the recent selloff. Auto and tech stocks led the rally after encouraging economic data from China, Europe and the U.S. released last week suggested the global economy was on the mend. LG Electronics, LG Display and Hyundai Motor rose 1-4 percent.
New Zealand shares ended firmly in positive territory, as investors digested a mixed batch of earnings results. The benchmark NZX-50 rose half a percent to 4,546, with 30 of its components advancing. Heartland New Zealand rose 1.2 percent after the country's newest lender reported a 71 percent slide in annual profit, in line with its June guidance after taking a hit on its legacy assets. Skellerup Holdings rallied 3.4 percent and Network Television added 3 percent on announcing better-than-expected earnings last week, while telecommunications network operator Chorus dropped a percent after forecasting flat-to-weaker earnings next year.
Standard and Poor's affirmed New Zealand's 'AA+' credit rating and maintained a 'stable' outlook, reflecting the nation's fiscal flexibility, economic resilience and policy institutions conducive to swift and decisive policy reform. In economic releases, New Zealand recorded its widest trade deficit since 2008 in July amid higher imports and a fall in crude and dairy exports, the latest figures from Statistics New Zealand showed. The trade balance moved to a deficit of NZ$774 million from a surplus of NZ$374 million in the previous month.
Elsewhere, India's Sensex was moving up 0.4 percent, Malaysia's KLSE Composite was adding 0.1 percent and the Taiwan Weighted average rose 0.3 percent, while the markets in Indonesia and Singapore were subdued.
Singapore's manufacturing output beat expectations to post a 2.7 percent increase in July from a year ago, driven by a surge in transport engineering, data published by the Economic Development Board showed. The output was expected to rise at a moderate pace of 1.5 percent.
On Wall Street, the major averages rose about half a percent each in light trading on Friday, as investors digested disappointing new-home sales data and news from Microsoft that CEO Steve Ballmer is planning to retire within the next year.
A slew of key U.S. economic data is scheduled this week, including reports on durable goods orders, consumer confidence, pending home sales, and personal income and spending.
by RTT Staff Writer
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