Sun, Sep 29, 2013 - Page 15 News List

Asian stocks head for best monthly gain since 2010

THREE-YEAR HIGH:An analyst attributed the surge in the region’s markets to the Fed’s unexpected stimulus retention and good data prompting a more bullish view on China

Bloomberg and AFP

Asian stocks rose this month, with the benchmark index heading for its biggest gain in three years, as the US Federal Reserve unexpectedly maintained stimulus and data signaled that China’s economy is strengthening.

Tencent Holdings Ltd (騰訊), Asia’s biggest Internet company, gained 11 percent in Hong Kong this month to touch a record high, while Tokyo Electron Ltd surged 31 percent after Applied Materials Inc announced a plan to take over the Tokyo-based company. Acom Co soared 49 percent, spurring the consumer lender to the biggest gain on the Asian equities index, after a report said that Japan’s non-bank loans to individuals are picking up.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index rose 7.5 percent this month through Friday, the most since September 2010, and added 0.1 percent this week.

The US Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) said on Sept. 18 that it wants more evidence that improvement in the US economy will be sustained before slowing the pace of its US$85 billion in monthly asset purchases.

“After the FOMC meeting, investors saw that the Fed was more dovish than they expected, so the rebound was huge,” Grace Tam, a Hong Kong-based global market strategist at JPMorgan Asset Management, said in a telephone interview. “People were too bearish on China and are now starting to feel some relief. If China is doing good, it helps the rest of Asia.”

Profits at China’s industrial companies rose 24 percent last month, data showed on Friday. A preliminary reading of HSBC Holdings PLC and Markit Economics’ Purchasing Managers’ Index for China released on Monday rose to 51.2, a six-month high.

In Taipei, the TAIEX rose 0.56 percent, or 46 points, to end at 8,230.68 on Friday, compared with 8,209.18 on Sept. 18, the last day of trading that week before markets shut for the Mid-Autumn Festival.

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (台積電) rose 1.48 percent to NT$103 on Friday, while Hon Hai Precision Industry Co Ltd (鴻海集團) was 0.66 percent higher at NT$76.3.

Japan’s TOPIX fell 0.1 percent this week, but gained 10 percent last month, rising for the first month in five, as Tokyo won a bid to host the 2020 Olympic Games.

In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 Index gained 3.4 percent this month and climbed 0.6 percent since Sept. 20 through Friday, while New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index advanced 5.3 percent for the month.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index jumped 6.8 percent this month, China’s Shanghai Composite Index gained 2.9 percent and Singapore’s Straits Times Index rose 6 percent.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index touched a four-month high on Monday after the Fed announcement and has jumped 7.6 percent this quarter.

A pickup in China’s growth may boost Chinese Premier Li Keqiang’s (李克強) odds of meeting Beijing’s 7.5 percent expansion goal this year. Goldman Sachs Group Inc, Credit Suisse Group AG, Deutsche Bank AG and JPMorgan Chase & Co have all raised economic growth projections for the world’s second-biggest economy.

Analysts had predicted a US$5 billion reduction in Fed stimulus this month, estimates compiled by Bloomberg show.

Tapering could begin later this year should the data confirm the US central bank’s “basic outlook,” Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke said.

In other markets on Friday:

Wellington added 0.36 percent, or 17.21 points, from Thursday to close at 4,782.68.

Manila fell 0.43 percent, or 27.65 points, ending on 6,379.81.

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