Asian stocks rose a second day on Friday, with the regional benchmark paring its weekly drop, after the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index erased its loss this year on global stimulus optimism. Communications and materials shares led gains.
China Unicom Hong Kong Ltd (中國聯通) jumped 5.3 percent after Macquarie Group Ltd raised its rating for the nation’s second-largest wireless carrier. BHP Billiton Ltd, the world’s biggest miner and Australia’s top oil producer, advanced 2.8 percent as metals and crude rose. LG Chem Ltd surged 6.3 percent in Seoul on a report it would supply batteries for Hyundai Motor Co’s electric cars. Infosys Ltd gained 4.9 percent after the Indian software company’s earnings beat estimates on more orders.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index climbed 0.7 percent to 137.39 as of 4:06pm in Hong Kong, heading for a weekly decline of 0.4 percent. Crude extending its retreat into this year helped wipe about US$1.7 trillion off global equity values over the first six days of the year. Stocks rebounded as a drop in eurozone consumer prices fueled speculation the European Central Bank (ECB) would bolster stimulus efforts and after the US Federal Reserve signaled no change in its approach to rates in minutes of its meeting last month.
“While we are likely to see more volatility going forward, the rally looks sustainable on expectations easy money will continue for some time,” Tim Radford, a strategist at Rivkin Securities in Sydney, said by phone. “The Fed can afford to hold back raising interest rates given the low inflation, especially with cheaper oil prices. Should the ECB come out with a large-scale quantitative easing, that will further support equities.”
In Taipei, the TAIEX lost 0.2 percent to close at 9,215.58 on Friday, as market bellwether Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電) came under pressure after two European brokerages downgraded the stock, dealers said. The index was down 1 percent from the previous week’s 9,307.26.
“A weaker TSMC was the culprit behind today’s losses on the broader market,” Hua Nan Securities (華南永昌證券) analyst Kevin Su (蘇俊宏) said.
“Many investors simply seized on the downgrades by foreign brokerages as a reason to lock in the gains they made on TSMC shares in recent sessions,” Su said.
BNP Paribas and Credit Suisse downgraded their ratings on TSMC shares, saying the chipmaker might not be able to stave off stiff competition from its rivals as it tries to secure orders for Apple Inc’s next-generation processor.
“The two European brokerages appeared more downbeat than their US counterparts. To me, TSMC remains fundamentally healthy, and the correction is expected to provide investors with a good buying opportunity,” Su said.
TSMC fell 2.9 percent to close at NT$134 on Friday.
Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index gained 1.6 percent, with energy stocks leading gains after crude extended its rebound. Japan’s TOPIX and New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index each climbed 0.2 percent. South Korea’s KOSPI advanced 1.1 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index added 0.4 percent, while Singapore’s Straits Times Index slipped 0.4 percent.
China’s Shanghai Composite Index dropped 0.2 percent after rising as much as 3.4 percent, with the gauge erasing gains in the final 30 minutes of trading after slumping 2.4 percent the day before.
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