Sun, Apr 15, 2012 - Page 10 News List

Asian markets edge higher amid stimulus hopes

Bloomberg and AFP, with staff writer

Asian stocks edged higher this week amid speculation central banks in China and Japan will add to monetary stimulus and as better-than-estimated earnings at global companies from Fast Retailing Co to Alcoa Inc helped shares rebound from the longest slide since August last year.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index added 0.1 percent to 125.04, gaining for the first time in two weeks. The gauge gained 1.6 percent in the last two days of the week, making up for losses earlier in the week amid concern Spain will become the next European country to need a bailout as bond yields rise. The benchmark rebounded after sliding for six days, the longest losing streak since August last year, and dropping on Wednesday to its lowest level in more than two months.

“We’ve had a little rebound after markets slid too much,” said Linus Yip (葉尚志), a Hong-based strategist at First Shanghai Securities (第一上海證券). “Whenever things get bad, stocks find support because investors expect central banks to add stimulus.”

Asia’s benchmark equity gauge has retreated 3 percent from the start of last month as China cut its economic growth target and on speculation stocks rose too fast after the index climbed 13 percent in the first two months of the year.

Taiwan’s TAIEX rose 1.1 percent to 7,788.27 this week.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average dropped 0.5 percent this week, paring its decline after Bank of Japan Governor Masaaki Shirakawa on Thursday pledged to continue adding monetary stimulus.

South Korea’s KOSPI slipped 1 percent. The gauge trimmed losses after a North Korean rocket launch on Friday failed soon after liftoff.

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 added 0.1 percent. Shares gained after payrolls rose more than economists forecast last month, capping the best quarter since 2010.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index advanced 0.5 percent, climbing in the last two days after a report showed China’s bank lending surged last month to the most in a year.

Shares also gained as speculation intensified China may ease monetary policy after a report on Friday that mainland Chinese economic growth slowed last quarter to the least in almost three years.

Markets across Asia fell early in the week as Spanish yields surged closer to levels that prompted other European countries to seek bailouts.

In other markets on Friday:

Manila closed 1 percent higher, adding 50.52 points from Thursday to 5,097.30.

Wellington closed flat, adding 0.10 points from Thursday to 3,487.17.

Mumbai fell 1.37 percent, or 238.11 points, from Thursday to 17,094.51

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