Asian stocks rose for a fourth straight week as exporters gained on a rising dollar and US economic reports that boosted confidence in the world’s largest economy.
“There are mounting expectations about an economic recovery in the US,” said Naoki Fujiwara, who helps oversee US$6 billion in Tokyo at Shinkin Asset Management Co.
The MSCI Asia-Pacific Index rose 0.1 percent this week. The gauge surged to its highest level in two-and-a-half years on Tuesday as data on US manufacturing boosted optimism that a recovery in the world’s largest economy is strengthening.
The Shanghai Composite Index climbed 1.1 percent in China, after a slowdown in manufacturing boosted speculation that inflation eased last month, reducing pressure on the government to impose further curbs to rein in rising property prices.
In Japan, the Nikkei 225 Stock Average rose 3.1 percent as a stronger US dollar boosted the profit outlook for Japanese exporters.
Markets in Japan, China, Australia and New Zealand were closed on Monday for a holiday.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index gained 2.8 percent and South Korea’s KOSPI rose 1.7 percent. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index declined 0.9 percent.
The MSCI Asia-Pacific Index rose 14 percent last year, extending a 34 percent increase in 2009, as positive global economic data and corporate profits outweighed concerns about Europe’s debt crisis and China’s steps to curb inflation. Stocks in the gauge trade at an average 14.2 times estimated earnings, compared with about 22.7 times at the start of last year.
Taiwan’s TAIEX fell 100.49, or 1.1 percent, to 8,782.72 at the 1:30pm close on Friday, the lowest since Dec. 20. The benchmark index lost 2.1 percent this week, snapping six weeks of gains.
Institutional investors on Friday continued to unload non-tech and financial stocks, dealers said.
“Judging from the way old-economy and financial stocks were being dumped, I suspect the selling largely came from local institutional investors who had held a large chunk of these shares,” Grand Cathay Securities (大華證券) analyst Mars Hsu (徐振家) said.
Hsu said old-economy shares and the financial sector have outperformed the broader market since the index made a significant breakthrough in the past two months, in particular after the Nov. 27 elections.
Hsu said that the market sentiment has turned more cautious, making any immediate meaningful rebound unlikely.
He said many investors are expected to stay sidelined over the next few trading sessions, watching closely how companies on Wall Street report their fourth-quarter results.
In other markets on Friday:
Manila fell 0.35 percent, or 14.73 points, from Thursday to 4,202.52.
Wellington fell 0.26 percent, or 8.77 points, from Thursday to 3,317.94.
Mumbai ended 2.44 percent, or 492.93 points, lower from Thursday at 19,691.81. The market was hammered by concerns the central bank will raise interest rates sooner than expected as food price inflation hit a five-month high of 18.32 percent in the week ended Dec. 25.
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