Sun, Feb 16, 2014 - Page 15 News List

Asian markets soar, index has year’s first weekly rise

TRICKLE-DOWN:Good news from the world’s top two economies, the US and China, in the form of Yellen’s first address and strong Chinese trade data drove the regional rally

Bloomberg and Staff writer, with CNA

Asian shares rose, with the regional benchmark capping its first weekly gain this year as China’s trade data beat estimates and US Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen’s first official address buoyed optimism about the US economy.

China COSCO Holdings Co (中國海運集團), the nation’s biggest cargo line, gained 3.9 percent in Hong Kong, while South Korean electronics maker Samsung Electronics Co gained 2 percent in Seoul and the Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd — Australia’s third-largest bank by market value — surged 6.4 percent after its first-quarter cash profit climbed 13 percent from a year earlier.

In Tokyo, Kirin Holdings Co, Japan’s biggest beverage maker, slumped 7 after its forecast missed estimates. The TOPIX on Friday erased its weekly gain after the yen strengthened.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index gained 1.6 percent to 135.35 this week, the biggest weekly rally since the period ended on Nov. 15 last year, paring this year’s drop to 4.2 percent.

This year’s global equity losses peaked at about US$3 trillion on Feb. 4 and have since narrowed to US$587 billion as of yesterday, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

Taiwan’s TAIEX added 1.5 percent this week, compared with 8,387.35 on Feb. 7, after rising 45.98 points, or 0.54 percent, to 8,513.68 on Friday. Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (台積電) gained 2.38 percent to NT$107.5 in Friday’s session, while HTC Corp (宏達電) fell 0.78 percent to NT$128.

Elsewhere in Asia, Japan’s TOPIX slid 0.4 percent and its Nikkei 225 Stock Average lost 1 percent, both erasing this week’s gains on Friday as the yen reversed losses against the US dollar.

In Canberra, Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index surged 3.7 percent to extend gains after the Reserve Bank of Australia said a weaker currency will help restore growth.

Meanwhile, South Korea’s KOSPI fell 1 percent after the Bank of Korea left its key interest rate unchanged, while New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index gained 1 percent and Singapore’s Straits Times Index added 0.9 percent.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index rose 3.1 percent this week, while the Hang Seng China Enterprises Index of mainland companies listed in the territory — also known as the H-share index — gained 3 percent and the Shanghai Composite Index added 3.5 percent.

The trade data China release this week were “like a double present for the market,” said Andrew Sullivan, director of sales trading at Kim Eng Securities in Hong Kong. “Exports were good and we know they are still targeting internal growth, and I think that’s quite positive.”

China’s overseas shipments increased 10.6 percent from a year earlier, the Chinese General Administration of Customs said on Wednesday in Beijing. The figure compared with economists’ median projection of a 0.1 percent gain. Chinese imports advanced 10 percent, leaving the country with a trade surplus of US$31.9 billion, its widest for January since 2009.

Of the 331 companies on the MSCI Asia Pacific Index that have reported quarterly earnings since the beginning of last month and for which estimates are available, 54 percent beat profit expectations as of Thursday, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The MSCI Asia-Pacific gauge ended the week trading at 12.7 times estimated earnings, compared with multiples of 15.6 for the S&P 500 and 14.3 for the STOXX Europe 600 Index, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

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