Asian stocks gained as rising home sales in the US added to signs the world’s biggest economy is recovering even as Greece struggles to negotiate with creditors ahead of a meeting of EU finance ministers on the debt crisis.
Sony Corp, Japan’s biggest exporter of consumer electronics, climbed 4 percent to ￥1,422 in Tokyo.
Olympus Corp, a maker of optical equipment that has lost US$4 billion in market value amid an accounting scandal, climbed 8.2 percent to ￥1,297 in Tokyo. Rather than force the camera maker to be delisted, the Tokyo Stock Exchange fined the company ￥10 million (US$130,000) and required annual reports on efforts to improve management, the bourse said on Friday last week.
Reliance Industries Ltd, India’s biggest company by market value, slipped 2.5 percent to 773.25 rupees in Mumbai after the owner of the world’s biggest oil refining complex said third-quarter net income declined 14 percent from a year earlier to 44.4 billion rupees (US$884 million).
That missed the 45.6 billion rupee median estimate of 29 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.
Exporters to the US advanced as sales of previously owned US homes rose for a third month in December to the highest level since January last year. The increase signals that the US housing market, which triggered the global recession, ended last year with positive momentum.
Companies that receive revenue from Europe declined ahead of a meeting of finance ministers in Brussels to discuss new budget rules for the region, a financial firewall to protect indebted states and a Greek debt swap.
Greek officials and private creditors continued negotiations on a deal that is crucial to lowering the country’s debt and securing more financial aid before it faces a 14.5 billion euro (US$18.7 billion) bond payment on March 20.
Canon dropped 1.2 percent to ￥3,390 in Tokyo. Shimano Inc, a bicycle parts maker that counts Europe as its biggest market, fell 0.9 percent to ￥3,690.
“Any weakness is a good buying opportunity given improving economic data out of the US,” said Nader Naeimi, a Sydney-based senior strategist at AMP Capital Investors Ltd, which manages nearly US$100 billion. “Greece can go hot and cold very quickly.”
Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average closed little changed, after declining as much as 0.3 percent and rising as much as 0.3 percent. The BSE India Sensitive Index added 0.1 percent, reversing losses of as much as 0.5 percent. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index lost 0.3 percent.
Markets in China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, South Korea, Singapore and Taiwan were closed for holidays.
In the foreign exchange market, the euro slipped against the US dollar and yen in Asia yesterday as the market awaited a meeting of eurozone finance ministers on a strategy to tackle the region’s debt crisis.
The euro bought US$1.2897 and ￥99.36 in Tokyo afternoon trade, down from US$1.2933 and ￥99.61 in New York late on Friday. The US dollar was flat, trading at ￥77.04.
The euro was likely to remain prone to downward pressure as investors watch for any developments in talks on Greek debt as well as the European finance ministers’ meeting later yesterday, a senior dealer at a major bank in Tokyo said.
“There will be sharp euro-selling if the negotiations break down,” he told Dow Jones Newswires.
The market is likely to be relatively quiet during Asian trading hours with many regional markets closed for the Lunar New Year holiday, he added.