Asian stocks rise on US data as Japan shares jump

Agencies

Sun, Dec 29, 2013 - Page 15

Asian stocks rose for a second straight week with Japan’s TOPIX reaching its highest since 2008 as the yen weakened to a five-year low and as US data added to evidence the world’s largest economy is strengthening.

Toyota Motor Corp, the world’s biggest carmaker, gained 3.6 percent this week in Tokyo. Hyundai Merchant Marine Co, South Korea’s second-largest sea cargo carrier, jumped 12 percent after its parent said it plans to sell assets to raise 3.3 trillion won (US$3.1 billion).

Acer Inc gained 8.5 percent in Taipei after the personal-computer maker named a new chief executive officer.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index rose 1.2 percent to 140.33 this week, the biggest weekly advance since the five days ended on Nov. 15.

Shares climbed after data showed third-quarter US growth was faster than previously estimated, while a separate report showed jobless claims dropped more than forecast in the week that ended on Dec. 21.

The IMF said it will raise its outlook for the US economy next year.

Holiday closings in the week included Monday in Japan, Wednesday and Thursday in Hong Kong and Australia, and Wednesday in Singapore and South Korea.

Asia’s regional equities gained 11 percent this year as the US and China showed signs of stabilization.

The gauge yesterday traded at 14 times estimated earnings, near the highest level since May, compared with multiples of 16.7 for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index and 15.4 for the Stoxx Europe 600 Index on Thursday, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Taiwan’s TAIEX advanced 1.5 percent this week to 8,535.04 points, the highest level since Aug. 2, 2011, when the index finished at 8,545.72 points.

Shares in Taiwan are expected to move higher before the market closes on Jan. 28 for the upcoming Lunar New Year holiday, as the local bourse has become technically healthier after overcoming strong technical resistance at about 8,500 points, analysts said yesterday.

As foreign institutional investors return to the trading floor after the Christmas holiday period to bring more funds into the local market, the weighted index could test 8,800 points or even 8,900 points before the market closure, analysts said.

The benchmark weighted index on the Taiwan Stock Exchange closed up 0.57 percent on Friday.

The last trading day of the local equity market before the Lunar New Year holiday will be Jan. 27, with trading resumed on Feb. 5.

Li Sui-jia (李穗佳), a manager at the Taishin 2000 High Technology Equity Fund, said the future performance of the local bourse will largely depend on whether Wall Street continues to move higher.

Li said that with the impact from uncertainty over the Fed’s policy fading, Wall Street is likely to continue its uptrend, which could reinforce investor confidence in other global financial markets, including Taiwan’s.

Even if the market attention shifts to when the Fed will start to hike interest rates, Li said, the US central bank is unlikely to raise its key interest rates until 2015, so market volatility due to such rate hike concerns could be short-lived.

Li said that as long as Wall Street keeps moving ahead and remains high in the first quarter of next year, the momentum of the local bourse is likely to continue after breaching 8,500 points.

Japan’s TOPIX this week rose 2.3 percent, closing at its highest level in five years as the yen touched 105 against the US dollar for the first time since October 2008.

The Nikkei 225 Stock Average rose 1.9 percent.

Toyota Motor rose 3.6 percent to ¥6,390 as Goldman Sachs Group Inc said the carmaker may raise its operating-profit forecast if it takes the weaker yen into account. Mazda Motor Corp, a carmaker that gets 30 percent of sales in North America, jumped 6.7 percent to ¥542.

The S&P 500 extended record highs after US data released last week after the close of Asian markets showed GDP climbed at a 4.1 percent annualized rate, the strongest since the final three months of 2011 and up from a previous estimate of 3.6 percent.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index and the Hang Seng China Enterprises Index, also known as the H-share index, both climbed 1.9 percent, while the Shanghai Composite Index added 0.8 percent.

Shares gained after China’s central bank on Tuesday eased a year-end cash crunch by executing reverse-repurchase agreements for the first time in three weeks, sending the nation’s benchmark money-market rate to its steepest weekly decline since February 2011.

South Korea’s KOSPI rose 1 percent. Hyundai Merchant jumped 12 percent to 11,300 won in Seoul this week. Hyundai Group, with businesses from shipping to stock broking, will sell assets including three financial units as part of restructuring plans, it said in an e-mail on Sunday last week.

The sale would help the group raise cash, easing shareholders’ concerns, according to Kim Min Ji, an analyst at E*Trade Securities Co.

In other markets on Friday:

Manila gained 0.20 percent, or 11.51 points, from Thursday to 5,889.83.

Wellington ended the day flat, slipping 0.58 points to 4,767.36.

Mumbai rose 0.56 percent, or 118.99 points, from Thursday to 21,193.58 points.