Sun, Jan 19, 2014 - Page 15 News List

Asian gauge static as good data offset equity concerns

RECOVERING:Exporters and producers of raw materials were the biggest winners this week and analysts predict the trend will be sustained if the global rebound persists

Agencies, with staff writer

Asia’s benchmark stock index was little changed this week, as investors weighed signs of a stronger global economy against concern about equity valuations.

Li & Fung Ltd (利豐), a supplier of toys and clothes to shops, including Wal-Mart Stores Inc, jumped 3.8 percent as US retail sales beat estimates, while BHP Billiton Ltd added 4 percent in Sydney as Citigroup Inc said the world’s biggest mining company needs less capital to fund growth than two years ago.

In Tokyo, GungHo Online Entertainment Inc, a Japanese producer of online games that posted the biggest advance on the MSCI Asia Pacific Index last year, sank 4.3 percent.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index was little changed at 139.56 on the week and has dropped 1.3 percent since Dec. 31 last year after rising 9.3 percent for the whole of that year.

The benchmark measure ended the previous year trading at 14.1 times estimated earnings, compared with a three-year average of 13, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

Regional exporters advanced this week after the World Bank raised its global economic growth forecast for this year.

“A synchronized global recovery will benefit Asian exporters and raw material producers,” Shane Oliver, Sydney-based head of investment strategy at AMP Capital Investors Ltd, said by telephone.

Taiwan’s TAIEX rose 0.8 percent this week after losing 0.19 percent on Friday to end at 8,596.00, compared with 8,529.35 on Jan. 10.

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電), the world’s largest contract manufacturer of chips, surged 5.4 percent this week to close at NT$107.5.

The company said it expects full-year sales and profit to climb at least 10 percent this year, as demand for mobile devices offsets higher depreciation costs.

As TSMC rose 0.47 percent in Taipei on Friday, computer maker Acer Inc (宏碁) slipped 0.78 percent to NT$19. Turnover totaled US$644 million during the session.

Elsewhere in Asia, Japan’s TOPIX slipped 0.1 percent this week after climbing 51 percent last year, while Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index fell 0.1 percent, the NZX 50 Index gained 0.6 percent in Wellington, South Korea’s KOSPI added 0.3 percent, the Straits Times Index rose 0.1 percent in Singapore and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index climbed 1.3 percent.

In Bangkok, the SET Index jumped 3.2 percent as it rose for a second week. The Bank of Thailand will probably cut its benchmark interest rate for a second straight time next week as protests to oust Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s government crimp growth.

Yingluck dissolved parliament last month and has for weeks faced protesters who want to remove her and the influence of her brother, former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

In addition to Li & Fung, other exporters that gained this week included Lenovo Group Ltd (聯想), the world’s largest maker of personal computers, which jumped 9.3 percent to HK$10.04 in Hong Kong, as Samsung Electronics Co, Asia’s biggest technology company, gained 1.6 percent to 1.3 million won in Seoul.

Among stocks that fell, GungHo Online sank to ¥694 in Tokyo.

The online game producer that is partly owned by SoftBank Corp surged 775 percent last year, making it the top performer on the MSCI Asia Pacific Index.

Great Wall Motor Co (長城汽車), China’s No. 1 maker of sports-utility vehicles, fell 9.9 percent to HK$35.05 in Hong Kong after delaying the introduction of its Haval H8 model for three months.

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