Sun, Jan 13, 2013 - Page 15 News List

Asian markets fall on mixed China readings

Agencies, TAIPEI and HONG KONG

Most Asian stocks outside Japan fell this week as investors locked in profits after a rally through the first week of the year and amid mixed economic reports from China.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index fell 0.1 percent to 131.82 this week after a seven-week winning streak, the longest in almost a year. The MSCI Asia Pacific excluding Japan slipped less than a 10th of a percentage point, with more than six stocks falling for every five that rose, while the MSCI Japan Index jumped 1.1 percent in its eighth weekly gain.

“We don’t expect a no-brainer, one-way climb for stocks,” said Michael Kurtz, chief global equity strategist at Nomura Holdings in Hong Kong. “Japan for its part has delivered a key step toward expectations of a major pro-reflation policy shift.”

The benchmark Asia gauge climbed 14 percent last year as central banks in the US, Europe, Japan and China took action to spur economic growth.

Stocks on the index were at about 14.2 times estimated earnings, compared with multiples of 13.3 for the S&P 500 Index and 12 for Europe’s STOXX 600, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Among the week’s gainers was Taiwan’s TAIEX, which rose 0.2 percent to close at 7,819.15.

Since breaching 7,800 points on Thursday, the market has faced strong technical resistance, Concord Securities (康和證券) analyst Kerry Huang said.

“There are fears the market could suffer a major pullback soon, and many investors preferred to retreat from the trading floor, which dragged down daily turnover [on Friday],” Huang said.

Huang said investors were also concerned that the strength of the New Taiwan dollar would undermine the export competitiveness of Taiwan’s electronics sector.

“In addition, as the first quarter is a slow season for the technology business, many investors wanted to stay away from the sector,” she said.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average rose 1.1 this week, a ninth straight advance. The TOPIX also rose for a ninth week, the longest such streak since it hit an all-time high in December 1989.

The Philippine stock exchange also gained 1.3 percent, reaching a record close on Wednesday.

In contrast, South Korea’s KOSPI dipped 0.8 percent as the nation’s central bank left its key rate unchanged as expected. Singapore’s Straits Times Index slipped 0.3 percent, and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index dropped 0.3 percent.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index sank 0.3 percent this week. The Shanghai Composite Index fell 1.5 percent. China’s inflation last month accelerated to a seven-month high as the nation’s coldest winter in 28 years pushed up vegetable prices. However, customs figures released on Thursday showed that exports last month rose 14.1 percent from a year earlier and imports increased 6 percent.

In other markets on Friday:

Wellington ended 0.31 percent higher from Thursday, adding 12.67 points to 4,131.75.

Mumbai ended flat, up 0.09 points at 19,663.64.

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