Sun, Feb 19, 2012 - Page 10 News List

Stock markets in Asia equal record win streak

Bloomberg and AFP, with Staff Writer

Asian stocks rose this week, with the MSCI Asia Pacific Index equaling its longest streak of advances, as China pledged to do more to help Europe cope with the debt crisis and Japan boosted asset purchases.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index gained 1.7 percent to 126.95 this week, extending its winning streak to the longest since December 2005. The gauge has advanced for nine consecutive weeks only three previous times since 1988.

“It’s a distinct improvement from the fourth quarter last year from the perspective of investor confidence and risk appetite,” said Prasad Patkar of Platypus Asset Management Ltd in Sydney. “The European news flow still seems to be determining the direction of the markets. So, when there’s a bit of relief from the European front, the markets can focus on fundamentals, which seem to be improving by the day.”

Taiwan’s TAIEX was up 0.4 percent on the week, closing at 7,894.36 on Friday.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average rose 4.9 percent, heading for the biggest weekly gain since Dec. 2 last year, as the yen fell against all of its 16 major counterparts.

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 fell 1.2 percent and South Korea’s KOSPI advanced 1.5 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index advanced 3.4 percent. India’s BSE Sensitive Index climbed 3.1 percent for its seventh consecutive weekly rise and a fresh six-month high.

The Shanghai Composite Index, which tracks the bigger of China’s stock exchanges, trailed major regional gauges as slumping foreign direct investment and trade data pointed to further weakness in the world’s second-largest economy.

“The fundamentals of the economy aren’t good and monetary policy will still be kept relatively tight this year,” said Wang Zheng (王徵), Shanghai-based chief investment officer at Jingxi Investment Management Co (精熙投資管理).

Asian stocks extended gains as People’s Bank of China Governor Zhou Xiaochuan (周小川) said on Wednesday that China is ready to be more involved in resolving the European crisis through the European Financial Stability Facility and European Stability Mechanism. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao (溫家寶) said on Tuesday that the nation is willing to get “more deeply” involved.

“The sense of worry is weakening slightly in markets across the board,” Hisakazu Amano of T&D Asset Management Co said in Tokyo. “Expectations for a US economic recovery are increasing and the uncertainties on the European debt issues are subsiding.”

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index gained 11.5 percent this year through Friday, compared with an 8.2 percent advance by the S&P 500 and an 8.8 percent increase by the STOXX Europe 600 Index. Stocks in the Asian benchmark are valued at 14.5 times estimated earnings on average, compared with 13.1 times for the S&P 500 and 10.99 times for the STOXX 600.

In other markets on Friday:

Wellington edged up 0.1 percent, or 2.56 points, to 3,289.0.

Manila closed up 114.14 points, or 2.39 percent, to 4,880.71.

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