Sun, Jan 22, 2012 - Page 10 News List

Asian stocks still on winning streak

ON A ROLL:As European bond yields came down and the US’ economic data brightened, Asian regional shares continued their rise for the fifth week running

Agencies, with Staff Writer

Asian stocks rose for a fifth week, the regional benchmark’s longest winning streak in a year, as US economic reports showed the world’s biggest economy is recovering and falling European borrowing costs signaled the debt crisis may be easing.

Toyota Motor Corp, the world’s biggest carmaker by market value, climbed 3.5 percent in Tokyo. Samsung Electronics Co, the South Korean consumer electronics maker that gets 20 percent of sales from Europe, advanced 5.6 percent in Seoul. China Construction Bank Corp, China’s No. 2 lender, jumped 5.9 percent amid signs policy makers might ease lending curbs to spur growth in the world’s second-largest economy.

“Everyone is breathing a collective sigh of relief as European bond yields come down,” said Angus Gluskie, who oversees about US$300 million as managing director at White Funds Management in Sydney. “The US economic data is another bright spot.”

In Greece, officials were locked in talks with the country’s creditors to hammer out a plan to cut its debt of more than 350 billion euros (US$452.8 billion) by under a third.

The eurozone has insisted private creditors take losses of at least 50 percent on their holdings of Greek bonds. Athens needs the debt reduction deal and the 130 billion euros in additional funds the eurozone has offered before major bond repayments are due in March, or it could face a default.

Greek officials have said they see a deal as possible by the end of the week.

“Notwithstanding some cynics who question the mechanisms behind the European bond auctions and lingering doubts about whether Greece will reach agreement with creditors, it just appears that the downside [for markets] has been plumbed,” BBY senior institutional trader Peter Copeland said in Sydney.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index rose 3.3 percent this week, its longest winning streak since the five weeks that ended on Jan. 14 last year, as rising confidence among homebuilders and declining claims for jobless benefits added to signs of strength in the US economy.

Taiwan’s benchmark TAIEX index rose 0.2 percent to 7,233.69 on Wednesday, the highest close since Nov. 18.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average rose 3.1 percent as Japanese lenders rallied after the central bank delayed the sale of shares bought from financial institutions. South Korea’s KOSPI rose 4 percent.

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 climbed 1 percent. China’s Shanghai Composite Index gained 3.3 percent, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index jumped 4.7 percent.

Markets in China and Taiwan will be shut this week for the Lunar New Year holidays, while those in Hong Kong will be closed from Jan. 23 to Jan. 25.

In other markets on Friday:

Mumbai was 0.57 percent or 95.27 points, higher than Thursday on 16,739.01, its second straight day of gains.

Manila gained 1.01 percent, or 47.53 points, from Thursday, to 4,474.90.

Wellington rose 0.36 percent, or 11.72 points, from Thursday, to 3,276.46.

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