Asian stocks rise after two weeks’ losses

STRONG REBOUND::After rising four of five days this week, the MSCI Asia Pacific Index gained 2.9 percent, the most since the period ended on April 26 last year

Staff writer, with agencies

Sun, Mar 30, 2014 - Page 15

Asian stocks rose this week, with the regional benchmark rebounding from two weekly losses to post its biggest advance in almost a year, as finance shares led gains.

A gauge of Chinese shares listed in Hong Kong soared 6.1 percent as investors bet leaders of the world’s second-biggest economy will step up efforts to bolster growth after data showed further signs of slowdown.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Financials Index gained 3.4 percent as SBI Holdings Inc, which manages venture capital funds and owns an online brokerage, soared 21 percent in Tokyo.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index gained 2.9 percent to 136.68 this week, the most since the period ended on April 26 last year, after rising four of five days.

The gauge is headed toward a 0.8 percent decline this month, on course to close 3.3 lower for the first quarter of this year.

“The market’s focus is switching to the next catalysts, such as expectations for government action,” Masaaki Yamaguchi, equity market strategist at Nomura Holdings Inc, said on Friday.

Shares in Taiwan closed little changed on Friday as investors locked in gains after the index briefly breached the nearest level of technical resistance at about 8,800 points, dealers said.

While downward pressure was seen across the board, select high-tech stocks, including Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co, bucked the trend to prevent the index from falling further, they said.

The financial sector also outperformed the broader market as bargain hunters were attracted by its relatively low valuations after a recent consolidation, dealers said.

The weighted index on the Taiwan Stock Exchange gained 197.47 points this week from 8,577.17 on March 21. The TAIEX ended down 4.93 points, or 0.05 percent, at 8,774.64 on Friday, after moving between 8,751.07 and 8,812.41, on turnover of NT$96.95 billion (US$3.18 billion).

The market opened up 0.34 points and rose to the day’s high as investors shrugged off a lackluster Wall Street session hurt by the failure of several US banks to pass annual stress tests, dealers said.

However, after the index moved above the 8,800-point mark investors rushed to pocket their earlier gains to push the broader market into negative territory at the end of the session, they said.

Among the stocks which suffered profit taking pressure during the session, smartphone camera lens supplier Largan Precision Co (大立光) fell 1.05 percent to close at NT$1,420.00, off an early high of NT$1,465.00.

Hon Hai Precision Industry Co (鴻海精密), which assembles iPads and iPhones for Apple Inc closed unchanged at NT$86.30, off an early high of NT$86.40.

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (台積電) closed up 1.29 percent to close at NT$117.50 on market speculation that the world’s largest contract chipmaker has secured orders to make A8 chips for Apple’s next generation of iPhones.

The Hang Seng China Enterprises Index, also known as the H- share index, this week gained the most since November last year in Hong Kong, extending its rebound to 8.7 percent since entering a bear market on March 20.

The territory’s benchmark Hang Seng Index rose 2.9 percent this week after falling the previous three weeks. The Shanghai Composite Index slid 0.3 percent.

Japan’s TOPIX gained 3.5 percent, its first weekly advance in three and biggest such gain in four months, while the Nikkei 225 Stock Average added 3.3 percent.

South Korea’s KOSPI climbed 0.8 percent.

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index added 0.5 percent, while New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index rose 0.4 percent. Singapore’s Straits Times Index added 3.2 percent.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index fell 4.2 percent this month through March 20 before rebounding.

Shares were weighed down by concern about tension in Ukraine as Russian President Vladimir Putin annexed Crimea.

The Asia stocks gauge ended the week trading at 12.64 times estimated earnings, compared with multiples of 15.85 for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index and 14.45 for the STOXX Europe 600 Index, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Asian markets edged higher in quiet trade on Friday, with Wall Street providing a tepid lead following a mixed batch of economic

In other markets on Friday:

Jakarta ended up 0.96 percent from Thursday, or 46.22 points, at 4,768.28.

Kuala Lumpur’s main stock index gained 0.21 percent from Thursday, or 3.86 points, to 1,846.87.

Mumbai’s benchmark index gained 0.57 percent, or 125.60 points, from Thursday to end at 22,339.67 points.

Wellington rose 0.32 percent from Thursday, or 16.36 points, to 5,142.89.