Sun, Jun 08, 2014 - Page 15 News List

EU stimulus pushes Asian stocks higher

Bloomberg and AFP

Asian stocks rose to a seven-month high this week, as the region’s equities gauge posted a fourth week of gains after the European Central Bank (ECB) unveiled a range of stimulus measures.

Sumco Corp, which makes silicon wafers, surged 11 percent to lead gains on Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average, while Commonwealth Bank of Australia — the country’s largest lender by assets —climbed as financial shares posted their second-biggest advance among the 10 industry groups on the regional index. In Tokyo, Kyowa Hakko Kirin Co gained 2.8 percent as Barclays PLC recommended buying the pharmaceutical manufacturer’s shares.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index climbed 0.3 percent to 143.4 as of 6:39pm in Hong Kong, its highest close since October last year. The gauge gained 1.2 percent this week to record its longest weekly winning streak since March.

It rallied 9.9 percent through Thursday from this year’s low in February after Chinese authorities eased bank collateral rules and US data signaled that the recovery of the world’s No. 1 economy is intact.

The Asia-Pacific index traded at 13.2 times estimated earnings, compared with 16.4 times for the S&P 500 and 15.5 on the Europe STOXX 600 Index, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The ECB’s moves are “further growth supportive and a lower interest-rate backdrop is positive for equities,” Chris Green, director of economics and strategy at First NZ Capital Ltd, said by telephone.

“There’s still the impression that the labor market in the US is a relatively positive story. We’re still constructive on equities,” he added.

In Taipei, the TAIEX edged down 6.26 points to 9,134.46, compared with 9,075.91 on May 30.

In Friday trading, Hon Hai Precision Industry Co (鴻海精密) rose 0.32 percent to NT$93.2 while Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電) fell 0.41 percent to NT$122.5.

Japan’s TOPIX added 0.2 percent, rising 2.8 percent this week, amid optimism that the country’s largest pension fund will funnel more money into stocks, while New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index increased 0.4 percent and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index rose 0.5 percent, with Commonwealth Bank climbing 1 percent to A$81.77.

Elsewhere in the region, India’s BSE S&P SENSEX advanced 1.5 percent, Thailand’s SET Index added 0.3 percent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index slipped 0.7 percent, the Hang Seng China Enterprises Index of Chinese shares listed in Hong Kong slid 0.2 percent.

Also, Singapore’s Straits Times Index gained 0.6 percent, while China’s Shanghai Composite Index fell 0.5 percent and in South Korea, the KOSPI fell 0.7 percent on Thursday before markets closed for a holiday on Friday.

In other markets on Friday:

Wellington added 0.44 percent, or 22.95 points, from Thursday to close at 5,182.44.

Manila eased 0.14 percent, or 9.82 points, to 6,762.62.

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