Sun, May 04, 2014 - Page 15 News List

Asian stocks flounder on China, Ukraine concerns

Bloomberg and staff writer, with CNA

Asian stocks outside Japan fell this week as investors weighed earnings reports with trading curtailed by holidays around the region.

The MSCI Asia Pacific excluding Japan Index slid 0.3 percent to 475.51, dropping a third week. Samsung Electronics Co and Tencent Holdings Ltd (騰訊) were the biggest drags on the gauge.

The broader MSCI Asia Pacific Index gained 0.2 percent this week. The regional measure slid 0.5 percent last month to cap its first loss in three months amid signs of a deepening slowdown in China and as tensions in Ukraine escalated.

“Earnings season in Asia is probably not as good as what we’ve been seeing in the US,” said Chris Weston, chief market strategist at IG Ltd in Melbourne. “But corporate Asia seems to be in relatively healthy shape for the moment.”

Of the companies on the MSCI Asia Pacific Index that have posted results since the beginning of last month and for which Bloomberg has estimates, 52 percent beat earnings expectations. That compares with 75 percent on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index.

In Taipei, the TAIEX added 1.1 percent this week to close at 8,867.32. Shares staged a technical rebound on Friday on gains posted by select high-tech companies that reported better-than-expected earnings for the first quarter, dealers said.

However, the index’s advance was held down by investors’ reluctance to chase prices before the US released non-farm payroll data later that day, dealers said.

Advancers on Friday included IC chip designer MediaTek Inc (聯發科), smartphone camera lens supplier Largan Precision Co (大立光) and flat-panel manufacturer AU Optronics Corp (友達光電), dealers said.

Meanwhile, the Hang Seng China Enterprises Index of mainland companies listed in Hong Kong, also known as the H-share index, was little changed this week. The southern territory’s benchmark Hang Seng Index added 0.2 percent. The Shanghai Composite Index lost 0.5 percent. Hong Kong’s bourse was shut on Thursday and mainland markets were closed the past two trading days.

China’s official manufacturing purchasing managers index came in at 50.4, compared with the 50.5 median estimate in a Bloomberg survey of analysts. The final reading in HSBC Holdings PLC’s and Markit Economics’s private survey due next week is expected to show a four-month contraction in factory activity.

Japan’s TOPIX gained 1.1 percent this week. The Bank of Japan on Wednesday refrained from adding stimulus and said it is on track to meet its inflation target.

South Korea’s KOSPI fell 0.6 percent. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index dropped 1.3 percent, while New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index advanced 1.5 percent. Singapore’s Straits Times Index slid 0.5 percent.

In other markets on Friday:

Manila closed 0.52 percent higher from Thursday, adding 35.06 points to 6,742.97.

Mumbai slipped 0.06 percent, or 13.91 points, to 22,403.89 points.

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