Asian markets buoyed by China’s fiscal policy vows

WELCOME WORDS::The US ‘cliff’ curbed a rally sparked by Beijing’s promise to keep a proactive fiscal policy, and experts said a US solution was needed to sustain momentum


Sun, Dec 09, 2012 - Page 15

Asian stocks rose for a third week, with the regional benchmark gauge capping the longest winning streak in three months as China’s government pledged to boost urban development and gains in US services and factory orders boosted exporters.

The Shanghai Composite Index rose 4.1 percent this week, the biggest gain since October last year.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index gained 1.2 percent to 126.14 this week, capping a seven-day rally, the longest rising streak since September. Gains were limited as US lawmakers continued to negotiate a budget compromise to avert the so-called “fiscal cliff.”

“The economic data looks OK and that’s been supporting the share market,” said Shane Oliver, Sydney-based head of strategy at AMP Capital Investors Ltd, which has almost US$100 billion under management. “Markets will have to see a resolution of the US fiscal cliff for the rally to continue.”

The MXAP measure advanced almost 16 percent from this year’s low on June 4 as central banks from Europe, the US, Japan and China took steps to support economic growth. The gauge traded at 14.2 times estimated earnings on average, compared with 13.6 times for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index and 12.6 times for the STOXX Europe 600 Index, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

Taiwan’s TAIEX increased 0.8 percent to end the week at 7,642.26, as Singapore’s Straits Times Index rose 1.2 percent. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 rose 1 percent as the country’s central bank cut its benchmark interest rate to 3 percent. South Korea’s KOSPI Index climbed 1.3 percent, while New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index fell 0.2 percent.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average added 0.9 percent. Little damage was reported from a magnitude 7.3 earthquake that struck northeast Japan after markets closed on Friday.

The Shanghai Composite Index, which tracks the bigger of China’s stock exchanges, rose 4.1 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index gained 0.7 percent while a gauge of Chinese companies listed in the city-state advanced 2.8 percent.

The iShares FTSE A50 China Index exchange traded fund, the biggest such vehicle that allows people outside China to invest in the country’s domestic shares, surged 6.5 percent in Hong Kong.

China’s official manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index rose to 50.6 last month, the highest reading in seven months, data released by the National Bureau of Statistics and China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing on Dec. 1 showed. A reading above 50 indicates expansion. Another private survey also showed expansion.

China will keep its proactive fiscal policy and prudent monetary policy and promote economic restructuring and urbanization, Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping (習近平) was quoted as saying by the official China Central Television on Thursday.

Companies that do business in the US advanced after US data showed orders for equipment such as computers and electrical gear climbed in October by the most in eight months and service industries unexpectedly grew at a faster pace last month.

The S&P 500 rose 0.1 percent this week as US policymakers continued to grapple with a budget compromise that would avert the US’ fiscal cliff.

In other markets on Friday:

Wellington added 0.45 percent from Thursday to end at 4,041.53.

Manila added 0.53 percent, or 30.56 points, to end at 5,794.20.

Mumbai was down 0.32 percent, or 62.70 points, to 19,424.10 points.