Sun, Feb 26, 2012 - Page 10 News List

Asia’s regional index advances for 10th week

Agencies, with Staff Writer

Asian stocks rose this week, sending the regional benchmark index to its longest-ever streak of weekly gains, as US economic reports and signs of policy easing in China buoyed the outlook for Asian earnings.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index rose 0.8 percent to 127.97, capping its 10th week of advance, the longest such streak since its inception in 1988. The rally, which has taken the gauge to within 1 percent of entering a so-called bull market, was powered by optimism Europe would contain its sovereign-debt crisis, bets China would ease monetary policy and signs the US economy was improving.

“If you can get better data on employment and housing, I think investors will be comfortable the recovery in the US this time around has a better chance of surviving and thriving,” said Prasad Patkar, of Platypus Asset Management Ltd in Sydney.

“Improved risk appetite and improving economic fundamentals will create a catalyst that’s been lacking despite attractive valuations across a number of risk assets,” he said.

Taiwan’s TAIEX see-sawed through the week, surging to a high of 8,001.68 on Wednesday, only to succumb to profit-taking pressure on Thursday. It crawled back up on Friday to close the week 0.8 percent higher at 7,959.34.

However, trading volume on the TAIEX shrank on Friday, as many investors took to the sidelines ahead of an upcoming four-day national holiday to avoid possible uncertainty over global financial markets during the period, dealers said.

“The market has been in a consolidation mode and needs more time to digest technical pressure ahead of the crucial 8,000-point level,” Grand Cathay Securities (大華證券) analyst Mars Hsu (徐振家) said.

The market will reopen on Wednesday.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average rose 2.8 percent for a third week of gains. South Korea’s KOSPI slipped 0.2 percent.

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index gained 2.6 percent, led by OneSteel Ltd, which jumped 38 percent after saying it would refocus its business on iron ore.

China’s Shanghai Composite Index rose 3.5 percent. Chinese developers advanced after the Conference Board’s gauge of leading indicators for the world’s second-largest economy gained 1.6 percent last month after rising 0.8 percent in December. Chinese banks’ reserve requirements were also relaxed on Friday for the second time in three months, as policymakers stepped up efforts to boost liquidity and sustain growth.

In other markets on Friday:

Mumbai fell 0.86 percent, or 154.93 points, from Thursday to 17,923.57.

Wellington edged down 3.39 points, or 0.1 percent, to 3,319.76.

Manila was flat, easing 0.48 points, from Thursday to 4,893.00.

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