Sun, Mar 11, 2012 - Page 10 News List

Asian stocks fall, end longest ever weekly win streak

Bloomberg and AFP

Asian stocks fell this week, with the regional benchmark index snapping its longest-ever weekly winning streak, after China cut its economic growth target. Shares pared losses in the last two days of the week as Greece clinched a debt-swap deal seen as key to containing Europe’s crisis.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index slid 1 percent to 126.90 this week, ending an 11-week winning streak. The measure entered a bull market on Feb. 29, gaining more than 20 percent from a low recorded on Oct. 5 last year, after U.S. economic optimism and monetary easing in Europe, Japan and China fueled the fastest rally in more than two years.

The MSCI All-Country World Index has surged 91 percent from a low reached on March 9, 2009, amid deepening global recession.

Taiwan’s TAIEX rose 0.47 percent, or 37.17 points, to 8,021.73 this week, with Hon Hai (鴻海精密) adding 0.5 percent to NT$101.5 while Chunghwa Telecom (中華電信) was 0.33 percent lower at NT$91.3.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average gained 1.6 percent, extending its rally this year as a weaker yen boosted the outlook for exporters. The gauge also climbed after a report showed Japan’s economy contracted less than initially estimated in the fourth quarter of last year. The index on Friday surged above 10,000 for the first time since Aug. 1 last year. Tomorrow marks the one-year anniversary of the magnitude 9.0 earthquake and tsunami.

The Shanghai Composite Index fell 0.9 percent after China trimmed its economic growth target to 7.5 percent from an 8 percent goal in place since 2005. Separately, the nation’s inflation eased to the slowest pace in 20 months last month, a report showed on Friday.

“The market is digesting its gains over the past few months and consolidating,” said Khiem Do, the Hong Kong-based head of Asian multi-asset strategy at Baring Asset Management (Asia) Ltd, which oversees about US$10 billion. “China is slowing down and the US is growing, but at a modest pace.”

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index fell 2.2 percent. The Hang Seng China Enterprises Index of mainland Chinese companies declined 4.1 percent.

South Korea’s KOSPI fell 0.8 percent as the central bank left borrowing costs unchanged for a ninth straight month.

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index dropped 1.4 percent after the economy expanded 0.4 percent in the fourth quarter from the previous three months, half the pace economists estimated.

In other markets on Friday:

Manila gained 0.49 percent, or 24.52 points, from Thursday to 4,980.71.

Wellington closed 0.59 percent, or 20.03 points, higher at 3,433.82.

Mumbai jumped 357.72 points or 2.09 percent to 17,503.24, snapping three days of losses, led by buying in index heavyweights.

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