Sun, Mar 09, 2014 - Page 15 News List

Asian equities climb a fourth week on US resilience

Bloomberg and staff writer, with CNA

Asian stocks rose this week, with the regional gauge capping its longest streak of weekly gains since September, as US data signaled resilience in the world’s biggest economy and concern about the Ukraine crisis eased.

Honda Motor Co, a carmaker that gets almost half its sales in North America, climbed 4.5 percent in Tokyo. Sekisui House advanced 4.9 percent after the Japanese developer’s profit forecast beat analysts’ estimates. Sun Art Retail Group jumped 11 percent in Hong Kong, as Barclays PLC and UBS AG raised their ratings on China’s largest hypermarket operator after it posted higher profit.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index increased 0.9 percent to 139.12 this week, extending gains for a fourth straight week.

Shares advanced after reports showed US manufacturing expanded at a faster pace than projected last month, while fewer Americans than projected filed unemployment claims last week and as concern eased that Russia’s incursion into Ukraine would spark a broader conflict.

“A period of positive market outlook is not that strange when the global economy is in the best shape it has been over the last year,” ING Investment Management chief investment officer Hans Stoter said. “I don’t think Ukraine has such a big impact.”

Japan’s TOPIX climbed 2.1 percent this week, as the yen weakened and an advisory committee said the Government Pension Investment Fund, the world’s largest, does not need a domestic-bond focus. The Japanese currency slid 1.4 percent against the US dollar this week, the biggest drop since July.

Taiwan’s TAIEX gained 0.9 percent this week to close at 8,713.96. However, trading was flat on Friday after investors locked in earlier gains, halting the market’s advance, dealers said.

Market sentiment turned cautious after lawmakers in Ukraine’s Crimea region approved the holding of a referendum on whether to return the region to Russian control, the dealers said.

Many investors also preferred to keep more cash on hand to avoid possible losses ahead of the release of US non-farm payroll data later in the day, they added.

Select large-cap electronics stocks continued to move higher, which lent some support to the broader market and kept the index from falling into negative territory at the close, the dealers said.

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電), the most heavily weighted stock in the local market, closed up 1.33 percent at NT$114.50. IC chip designer MediaTek Inc (聯發科) gained 1.72 percent to NT$473, as the company reported record-high consolidated monthly sales after completing a merger at the beginning of last month with smaller rival MStar Semiconductor Inc (晨星半導體).

Advanced Semiconductor Engineering Inc (ASE, 日月光半導體), the world’s largest IC packaging and testing services provider, hit the daily limit to close at NT$32.35 on bargain hunting since the stock had been consolidating for some time.

However, smartphone camera lens maker Largan Precision Co (大立光) fell 1.44 percent to end at NT$1,370, while smartphone vendor HTC Corp (宏達電) closed down 1.43 percent at NT$138.00.

Meanwhile, China’s Shanghai Composite Index added 0.1 percent, its first weekly gain in three weeks, as investors assessed the outcome of the National People’s Congress.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (李克強) kept the annual growth target unchanged at 7.5 percent for this year, stoking speculation the government would allow the country’s US$21 trillion debt mountain to inflate.

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