Sun, Jan 16, 2011 - Page 10 News List

Asia advances for fifth week as Europe concerns ease

Agencies, with staff writer

Asian stocks advanced for a fifth straight week, sending the regional benchmark index near a two-and-a-half year high, after commodity producers rallied and as speculation mounted Europe will control its debt crisis.

“The Europe situation appears contained,” said Khiem Do, the Hong Kong-based head of Asian multi-assets strategy at Baring Asset Management (Asia) Ltd, which oversees about US$13 billion. “I don’t think they’ll let the EU collapse. The equity rally looks sustainable as the world economy continues to grow despite monetary tightening in some emerging-market economies.”

The MSCI Asia-Pacific Index increased 0.74 percent to 138.88. The gauge on Thursday increased to its highest level since June 2008 after oil and copper futures traded near their highest in two years after German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she is ready to take necessary steps to stem Europe’s sovereign debt crisis.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average fell 0.4 percent this week, while Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index increased 2.1 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index climbed 2.5 percent.

China’s Shanghai Composite Index slipped 0.9 percent amid speculation rate increases in the world’s fastest growing major economy were imminent. The People’s Bank of China increased banks’ reserve ratio requirements by 50 basis points after the Hong Kong and China markets closed on Friday. A basis point is 0.01 of a percent.

India’s Sensitive Index declined 4.2 percent this week, falling to its lowest level in more than four months. The nation’s stock market was the only exchange that was trading when China announced the increase in reserve ratios.

“India is really taking the brunt of selling at the moment,” said Francis Lun, general manager of Fulbright Securities Ltd in Hong Kong.

“I don’t think you can control inflation at the moment because it is caused by shortages,” Lun said.

The SENSEX has lost 8 percent this year and is the worst performer in dollar terms among the world’s 10 largest markets.

The MSCI Asia-Pacific Index advanced 14.3 percent last year, extending 2009’s 34 percent gain, as improving corporate profits and US economic stimulus measures offset concern over Europe’s sovereign debt crisis and China’s anti-inflation measures.

Taiwan’s benchmark TAIEX jumped 2.2 percent this week, the most among benchmark indices in the Asia-Pacific and the most since the week to Dec. 4.

The TAIEX fell 3.07 points, or less than 0.1 percent, to 8,972.51 on Friday. The gauge climbed 2.2 percent this week.

“Investors remained wary in the face of the stiff technical resistance at around 9,000 points after the market repeatedly failed to stand above that level in recent sessions,” Hua Nan Securities Co (華南永昌投顧) analyst Henry Miao (苗台生) said on Friday.

Although Intel posted better-than-expected quarter results, many investors remained reluctant to chase prices after the market rose in early-morning trade on Friday, Miao said.

In other markets on Friday:

Manila gained 1.52 percent, or 61.93 points, from Thursday to end at 4,132.04.

Wellington fell 0.11 percent, or 3.81 points, from Thursday to 3,369.89.

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