Asian stocks gain on US recovery, China stimulus

TAIWAN ADVANCE::Hermes Microvision rose 17 percent after Barclays raised its price target. It was the third-best performer this week on the Asian regional gauge


Sun, Apr 06, 2014 - Page 15

Asian stocks rose a second week with the regional benchmark index posting its longest daily winning streak this year as positive US data pointed to a recovery from harsh winter weather and China promised support to counteract a slowdown threatening the nation’s growth goal.

Samsung Electronics Co, which gets 29 percent of its sales from the Americas, added 3.4 percent for the week as data pointed to accelerating US growth and Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said the economy would need stimulus for “some time.”

China Railway Group Ltd (中國中鐵), the country’s No. 2 builder of train lines, jumped 12 percent in Hong Kong after the government said it would boost spending on railways as part of stimulus plans.

Hermes Microvision Inc (漢微科) surged 17 percent in Taipei after Barclays PLC raised its target price.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index added 1.9 percent this week to 139.27, bringing its two-week gain to 4.9 percent and capping an eight-day advance on Friday, its best winning streak this year.

Taiwan’s TAIEX gained 1.3 percent this week, closing at 8,888.54 on Thursday. Markets were closed on Friday for a holiday.

Hermes Microvision, which makes inspection systems for semiconductors, jumped 17 percent to NT$1,395 after Barclays raised its price target to NT$2,000 from NT$1,240. The stock was the third-best performer this week on the Asian regional gauge.

Japan’s TOPIX and Nikkei 225 Stock Average both added 2.5 percent this week, as the yen headed for its lowest since January.

Stocks rose even after the Tankan index of sentiment among large manufacturers missed estimates and the national sales tax was raised to 8 percent from 5 percent, the first increase since 1997.

Volume on the first section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange was a record 785 billion shares in the year ended March 31, Japan Exchange Group Inc said this week.

The Asia-Pacific gauge traded at 12.67 times estimated earnings on Friday compared with 15.89 for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The Institute for Supply Management’s (ISM) index rose to 53.7 last month from 53.2 in February, showing US manufacturing was expanding as a winter-depressed first quarter ended.

The ISM’s services gauge advanced to 53.1 last month from a four-year low of 51.6 in February. Readings greater than 50 signal expansion.

ADP Research Institute said US employment climbed a more-than-estimated 192,000 last month, following a 178,000 increase in February.

South Korea’s KOSPI advanced 0.4 percent this week.

Singapore’s Straits Times Index rose 1.3 percent as Noble Group Ltd, Asia’s biggest commodity trader by sales, jumped 5.8 percent after Chinese grain trader Cofco Corp agreed to pay US$1.5 billion upfront for just more than half of Noble’s agricultural trading unit.

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index rose 1 percent, as the central bank kept its benchmark interest rate at a record-low 2.5 percent. New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index fell 0.4 percent.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index increased 2 percent as stimulus measures in China were outlined. The Hang Seng China Enterprises Index of mainland stocks traded in Hong Kong added 1.1 percent.

The Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.8 percent as investors assessed mixed economic data in China. The official purchasing managers index (PMI) of manufacturing rose to 50.3 last month from 50.2 the month before, while the final PMI reading by HSBC Holdings PLC and Markit Economics Ltd was 48, the lowest since July.

A separate report showed the PMI for the service industry fell last month from February.

In other markets on Friday:

Mumbai closed down 0.66 percent or 149.57 points from Thursday at 22,359.50 points.

Wellington was flat, edging 1.53 points higher to 5,123.90.

Manila closed 0.39 percent lower, shedding 25.88 points to 6,561.20.