Sun, Dec 22, 2013 - Page 15 News List

Japan-led Asian stocks snap two-week slide

Bloomberg and AFP

Asian shares rebounded from two weekly declines this week after the US Federal Reserve decided to start scaling back stimulus, with Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average rising to its highest level since 2007 as the taper sent the yen to a five-year low.

However, Alacer Gold Corp, Australia’s third-largest listed gold producer, lost 2.5 percent as the US move cut demand for haven assets, while a gauge tracking Chinese shares in Hong Kong fell the most since October on concern that higher funding costs will hurt growth after money market rates surged.

Among the winners was Fanuc Corp, a Japanese maker of factory robotics, which hit a record high.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index gained 0.5 percent to 138.67, while the MSCI Emerging Markets Index dropped 0.2 percent. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index reached a record after the Fed’s announcement.

“The negatives [of the US taper] are clearly that emerging markets and Asian markets have been big beneficiaries of quantitative easing. The positives are if [Fed Chairman Ben] Bernanke is talking about the strength in the US economy, then it should be good for emerging economies,” Peter Elston of Aberdeen Asset Management said.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 gained 3 percent this week, closing at its highest since Dec. 12, 2007, while the TOPIX added 1.8 percent.

In Taipei, the TAIEX added 0.4 percent to end the week at 8,408.53, compared with 8,376.94 on Dec. 13.

On Friday, Chunghwa Telecom Co (中華電信) rose 0.33 percent to NT$92.6, while Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (台積電) fell 0.49 percent to NT$102.

Taiwan’s foreign reserves will serve as a buffer against the US tapering, Jih Sun Securities Investment Consulting Co (日盛投顧) said.

“As the Fed tapers its stimulus gradually, funds will move from emerging to developed markets,” said Michelle Tsai, a Taipei-based economist at Jih Sun Securities. “No Asian economy will be able to avoid this, but places with higher foreign reserves like Taiwan will be relatively resilient.”

Overseas funds bought US$35 million more Taiwanese stocks than they sold this week, taking net purchases this month to US$882 million, exchange data show.

Elsewhere in Asia, South Korea’s KOSPI added 1 percent this week, as New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index fell 0.8 percent, Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index rose 3.3 percent for its biggest weekly gain in almost eight months, Singapore’s Straits Times Index went up 0.9 percent and the S&P BSE SENSEX added 1.8 percent.

The Hang Seng China Enterprises Index fell 3.6 percent in its biggest weekly decline since the period ended on Oct. 25, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index lost 1.9 percent and China’s Shanghai Composite Index dropped 5 percent.

The MSCI Asia-Pacific gauge ended the week trading at 13.8 times estimated earnings, compared with 16.4 for the S&P 500 and 15.1 for the STOXX Europe 600 Index, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

In other markets on Friday:

Wellington lost 0.55 percent, or 25.87 points, on Thursday to end at 4,681.19.

Manila fell 1.49 percent, or 87.99 points, to finish on 5,835.13.

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