Asian markets began the new decade in broadly upbeat fashion yesterday with dealers in Tokyo lifted by news of extended credit to Japan Airlines (JAL) and a strong yen as well as positive Chinese manufacturing data.
And the new year saw the introduction of a new trading system in Tokyo as the stock exchange tries to keep ahead of its regional rivals following a series of technical problems in recent years.
Tokyo ended the day 1.03 percent higher at 10,654.79, a 15-month high, and Sydney added 0.12 percent to close at 4,876.3.
“The mood on the first day of trading this year is good,” Kenji Shiomura, market analyst at Daiwa Securities, told Dow Jones Newswires.
JAL shares soared more than 30 percent after the government on Sunday agreed to double a state-funded loan to the cash-strapped carrier to ¥200 billion (US$2.2 billion).
JAL shares had plunged 23.9 percent on the last trading day of last year, sinking at one stage to a record low, on fears Asia’s biggest airline might file for bankruptcy protection.
Exporters were also helped by the dollar’s stronger position against the yen.
The dollar eased to ¥92.79 in Tokyo yesterday in afternoon trade, down from ¥93.00 in New York late on Thursday, and the euro fell to US$1.4299 from US$1.4323, and to ¥132.58 from ¥133.26.
The dollar softened against the yen but its overall tone remained firm thanks to optimism about prospects for the US economy, dealers said.
However, Hong Kong was 0.29 percent lower by the break, while Shanghai was 0.38 percent off because of inflationary fears.
News that China’s Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) rose to 56.6 percent last month from 55.2 in November lifted the market early on but was unable to help sustain the gains.
“Improvement in December’s PMI is in line with expectations and investors are now more concerned about possible inflation risks tipped by the manufacturing index,” said Qiu Yanying (邱豔英), an analyst at TX Investment (天相投顧).
The Tokyo Stock Exchange’s next-generation trading platform, called “arrowhead,” can process orders in 0.005 seconds, much faster than the previous technology and on a par with the systems in New York and London.
Singapore announced its economy shrank 6.8 percent in the fourth quarter compared with the previous three months. However, the drop was not as big as expected and GDP actually rose 3.5 percent year-on-year.
The data was largely ignored by the city-state’s stock market, which was 0.30 percent lower in early afternoon trade because of profit-taking after hitting a 17-month high last week.
Oil jumped above US$80 a barrel after Russia cut its supplies to neighbor Belarus because of a row over tariffs.
New York’s main futures contract, light sweet crude for delivery in February, rose US$0.78 to US$80.14 a barrel, while Brent North Sea crude added US$0.74 to US$78.67.
Gold opened lower in Hong Kong, trading at US$1,095 to US$1,096 an ounce, compared with Thursday’s close of US$1,102 to US$1,103.