Sun, Aug 09, 2015 - Page 15 News List

Asia stocks mixed ahead of US jobs data, BOJ holds fire

AFP, HONG KONG

Asian stocks were mixed on Friday as investors awaited the release of US jobs data, while the Bank of Japan (BOJ) held fire on a fresh round of stimulus.

Investors are eyeing official US payroll data later on Friday for the latest clues about the timing of a US Federal Reserve interest rate hike, widely expected by next month or December.

Tokyo recovered early losses to cap a second weekly advance, ending 0.29 percent, or 60.12 points, higher at 20,724.56.

The TAIEX was flat after easing 7.27 points to 8,442.29 on Friday, down from 8,665.34 on Friday last week. Smartphone giant HTC Corp (宏達電) slumped 10 percent to NT$63, closing at their lowest in more than a decade after it reported weak results, while Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電) fell 0.75 percent to NT$133.

Sydney fell sharply, losing 2.41 percent, or 135.5 points, to 5,474.8 as banking shares weighed heavily on the benchmark S&P/ASX200.

Seoul closed 0.15 percent lower, shedding 3.06 points to finish at 2,010.23.

Hong Kong and China shares rebounded after the previous day’s losses, with the Hang Seng Index closing up 0.73 percent, or 177.19 points, at 24,552.47, while Shanghai ended the day 2.26 percent, or 82.66 points, higher at 3,744.20.

After a two-day meeting, the Bank of Japan on Friday held off fresh easing measures, saying the world’s No. 3 economy was steadily recovering. Analysts widely expect policymakers to act later in the year.

BOJ Governor Haruhiko Kuroda said he would consider expanding its record ¥80 trillion (US$640 billion) annual asset-buying scheme if weak oil prices keep holding back inflation.

Meanwhile, shares in Australia’s big four banks tumbled, led by ANZ, whose weaker than expected profits and A$3 billion (US$2.2 billion) capital-raising program to meet tougher regulatory requirements surprised the market. ANZ closed 7.49 percent lower at A$30.14, while shares in the Commonwealth Bank of Australia lost 3.84 percent, Westpac dropped 3.26 percent and National Australia Bank closed down 2.29 percent.

Australia’s financial regulator last month said the nation’s biggest banks had to hold more capital reserves as part of a global move to strengthen the sector after the financial crisis.

In Shanghai, Bloomberg News reported state-backed China Securities Finance Corp (中國證金), tasked with stabilizing the market, is seeking an additional 2 trillion yuan (US$322 billion), which would bring its support funds to 5 trillion yuan.

China’s equities have been on a rollercoaster since Beijing launched a major package to stabilize markets after Shanghai collapsed in mid-June, falling about 30 percent in three weeks after a major rally in the first half of the year.

Stock gains on Friday came ahead of the weekend release of Chinese trade and inflation figures for July, which analysts believe will show weakness in the world’s second-largest economy.

In other markets on Friday:

In Wellington, the NZX-50 was down 1.01 percent, or 60.03 points, at 5,868.66.

In Manila, shares closed 0.76 percent, or 57.43 points, lower at 7,532.52.

Mumbai fell 0.22 percent, or 61.74 points to end at 28,236.39 points.

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