Asian stocks rose for a fifth straight week as government and industry reports from the US and China fueled confidence in a global economic recovery.
BHP Billiton Ltd, a mining company that counts China as its biggest market for sales, rose 1.1 percent in Sydney as commodity prices gained after reports showed Chinese manufacturing increased last month. Korea Zinc Co gained 6.5 percent in Seoul. Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd, a Japanese carmaker that counts North America as its biggest market, leapt 11 percent in Tokyo after US reports on capital-goods orders, economic growth, unemployment and business activity.
The MSCI Asia-Pacific Index rose 1.2 percent this week to 127.06 after climbing to a five-month high. It gained 8.4 percent last month, the largest monthly advance since July last year. The 12 percent climb in the three months ended on Friday was the biggest quarterly increase of the past year.
“Rising capital investments in the US is a positive sign that shows companies expect demand to increase in the next few months,” said Ng Soo Nam, Singapore-based chief investment officer at Nikko Asset Management Co, which has US$123 billion in assets globally. “The stock rally may continue given that valuations are fair, but we have to watch whether the improvements in economic data are sustainable.”
Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average lost 0.7 percent. China’s Shanghai Composite Index rose 2.5 percent and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index increased 1.1 percent in their holiday-shortened weeks. South Korea’s KOSPI advanced 1.6 percent.
Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index dropped 0.5 percent. Nufarm Ltd, the country’s largest supplier of farm chemicals, plunged after UBS AG cut the company’s investment rating to “sell” from “neutral.”
Taiwan’s TAIEX closed little changed on Friday in quiet -trading, with investors remaining on the sidelines watching closely how companies will report their sales for last month this week, dealers said.
The weighted index rose 6.40 points, or 0.08 percent, to 8,244.18 after moving between 8,220.73 and 8,260.28 on turnover of NT$111.96 billion (US$3.58 billion).
The market opened up 0.26 percent as rotational buying resumed in select old economy stocks, but the gains were compromised by cautious sentiment ahead of the sales announcements for last month by electronics heavyweights, the dealers said.
The construction sector outperformed the broader market as the central bank did not come up with any widely expected dramatic measures to impact the industry on Thursday, such as the imposition of housing loan limitations to cap local property prices, they said.
In its quarterly policy making meeting, the central bank announced a hike of the key discount rate by 0.125 percentage points to 1.5 percent.
“The central bank move was better than expected, despite the rate hike,” Concord Securities (康和證券) analyst Allen Lin said. “The market was kind of relieved that the central bank imposed no further tightening regulations directly on the property market.”
Lin said he was expecting the market to continue to move in a trading range between 8,200 points and 8,400 points in the week ahead.
Other markets on Friday:
Manila closed 0.29 percent, or 11.92 points, higher from Thursday at 4,111.99.
Mumbai soared 1.87 percent, or 375.92 points, from Thursday to close at 20,445.04. India’s stock markets have been fueled on hopes of sustained economic growth and on record overseas fund flows, which stand at US$18.3 billion this year.