Sun, Apr 20, 2014 - Page 15 News List

Asia stocks advance on US data, China stimulus bets

Bloomberg and staff writer, with CNA

Asian stocks rose this week after US data and earnings boosted optimism about the world’s biggest economy, while further signs of a slowdown in China stoked speculation the government will add stimulus to stabilize growth.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index gained 0.9 percent to 139.16 this week. US industrial production increased more than forecast last month and US Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said the central bank remained committed to supporting the recovery.

“Confidence grew about the global economy and that was the No. 1 driver for the market,” said Junya Naruse, chief strategist at Daiwa Securities Group Inc, Japan’s second-largest brokerage. “Shares have yet to start a strong rally, but investors are getting confident that at least downside risk has receded.”

Man Wah Holdings Ltd, a sofa maker that gets half its sales from the US, surged 5.9 percent in Hong Kong after saying it expects higher profit. SoftBank Corp, which owns about 37 percent of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (阿里巴巴), soared 10 percent in Tokyo after Alibaba’s quarterly profit more than doubled ahead of a planned US initial public offering. CapitaMalls Asia Ltd jumped a record 21 percent in Singapore after CapitaLand Ltd, Southeast Asia’s biggest developer, offered to buy out investors in its mall unit.

In Taipei, the Taiwan Stock Exchange index rose 0.7 percent to 8,966.66 this week. The index breached the 9,000 mark on Friday, but retreated at close as investors locked in earlier gains, although it still ended up from the previous day, dealers said.

Market bellwether Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電) surged on Friday on better-than-expected second-quarter sales guidance, but other electronics heavyweights suffered a pullback that limited their gains, the dealers said.

Asia Securities Investment Consultant (亞洲投顧) analyst Chang Chih-cheng (張智誠) said the strength of TSMC helped the broader market float above the previous close after the chipmaker said on Thursday that its consolidated sales for the second quarter would rise between 21.5 and 23.5 percent from the first quarter, beating consensus estimates of an increase of 14 to 18 percent.

The property sector underperformed the broader market amid fears that the Taipei City Government would introduce new measures to curb rising home prices in the capital, they added.

The Hang Seng China Enterprises Index of mainland companies listed in Hong Kong, also known as the H-share index, dropped 1.4 percent this week. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index declined 1.1 percent. The Shanghai Composite Index lost 1.5 percent.

China’s GDP rose 7.4 percent from a year earlier in the first quarter, the statistics bureau said on Wednesday, the weakest pace of expansion in six quarters.

China is to lower reserve ratios at “qualified” rural banks in order to provide more funds to agriculture-related industries, according to a statement on the government Web site on Friday, citing a State Council meeting chaired by Premier Li Keqiang (李克強). He also said the nation is not considering “strong” stimulus, and reiterated that economic growth a bit higher or lower than 7.5 percent is within a reasonable range.

Japan’s TOPIX added 3.5 percent as the yen weakened. The Cabinet Office cut its economic view this month for the first time since Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe came to power in 2012, citing the sales-tax increase at the start of the month.

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