Sun, Feb 12, 2012 - Page 10 News List

Asian stocks gain for eighth week on upbeat news

BUCKING THE TREND:The TAIEX snapped three days of gains, falling 0.6 percent on Friday, with heavyweights facing downward pressure as investors pocketed gains

Bloomberg and AFP, Hong Kong

Asian stocks rose for an eighth week, with the regional index capping its longest streak of weekly advances since 2005, after the US jobless claims unexpectedly dropped and Greek political leaders struck a deal on a package of austerity measures.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index climbed 0.4 percent to 124.85 this week, extending its winning streak to the longest since December 2005, after both the unemployment rate and jobless claims unexpectedly dropped in the US.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average gained 1.3 percent, while the broader TOPIX advanced 2.4 percent. South Korea’s KOSPI climbed 1.1 percent this week and the Shanghai Composite -Index added 0.9 percent. Singapore’s Straits Times Index rose 1.4 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index added 0.1 percent, while Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index slid 0.1 percent.

A US Department of Labor announcement on Feb. 3 that the jobless rate fell to a three-year low of 8.3 percent last month sent stocks higher. Also, the government on Thursday showed the number of Americans filing first-time claims for unemployment insurance payments unexpectedly declined last week, indicating the labor market recovery is gaining traction.

The TAIEX fell 0.6 percent to 7,862.27 in Taipei on Friday, snapping three days of gains. The benchmark index increased 1.6 percent this week, a fifth -consecutive weekly advance.

Select old-economy heavyweights faced downward pressure as investors pocketed their gains from recent sessions, sending the broader market below the 7,900 point mark on Friday, dealers said.

“With the index moving closer to 8,000 points, technical resistance has increased,” Hua Nan Securities (華南永昌投顧) analyst Henry Miao (苗台生) said. “Today’s downside came as no surprise to me.”

Miao said the silver lining was that the downward pressure was not intolerable because there was ample liquidity. Some investors were willing to hunt bargains and buy on lows, he added.

“But, whether the market will jump over the technical hurdles ahead of 8,000 points will depend on how the debt crisis in Greece evolves,” Miao said.

Many investors around the world are watching closely to see if the Greek parliament will approve the disputed austerity package, he added.

“A number of investors prefer to wait and see if Greece will be granted bailout funds to avoid a default,” he said.

The machinery and electronics sector suffered the heaviest losses among the eight largest sectors of the local market, finishing Friday down 0.94 percent.

In other markets on Friday:

India fell 0.46 percent, or 82.06 points, from Thursday to 17,748.69.

Manila closed 0.29 percent higher, or 13.90 points, to 4,783.52.

Wellington gained 0.64 percent, or 21.40 points, to 3,348.13.

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