Asian stocks’ fall tempered by yen, US jobless claims

Bloomberg and staff writer, with CNA

Sun, Sep 21, 2014 - Page 15

Asian stocks rose, paring a second weekly decline on the benchmark index, as fewer Americans filed for jobless claims, the yen held at a six-year low against the US dollar and Scotland voted to reject independence.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index (MXAP) advanced 0.3 percent to 144.45 as of 4:11pm in Hong Kong. The measure was heading for a 1 percent decline this week after the weakest growth in Chinese industrial output since 2008 added to evidence the world’s second-biggest economy was losing momentum.

“The market can grind higher into the middle of next year,” Mark Lister, Wellington-based head of private wealth research at Craigs Investment Partners Ltd, said by telephone. “With central banks still being pretty supportive, with economic growth ticking over and with earnings growth from most regions still looking decent, you can really see there aren’t any better alternatives to equities. We’re staying overweight equities.”

US jobless claims fell by 36,000 to 280,000 in the period ended Sept. 13, the US Labor Department said yesterday. The median forecast of 52 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for a decline to 305,000. Those already collecting unemployment benefits fell to a more than seven-year low.

Shares in Taiwan closed little changed on Friday, as investors decided to lock in earlier gains when the index moved closer to 9,300 points, the nearest level of technical resistance, dealers said.

While many large cap high-tech stocks barely budged because of low turnover, select “Apple concept stocks” such as smartphone camera lens supplier Largan Precision Co (大立光) and metal casing maker Catcher Technology Co (可成) outperformed the broader market on optimism over iPhone 6 sales, they said.

The TAIEX ended up 3.42 points, or 0.04 percent higher from Thursday, at 9,240.45, after fluctuating between 9,235.44 and 9,289.22. It increased 0.2 percent from 9,223.18 on Friday last week.

“I expect the low trading volume in the local bourse to continue amid caution toward equity markets in China after Beijing reported disappointing economic data recently. So narrow range trading will dominate the local market over the next few sessions,” Hua Nan Securities (華南永昌證券) analyst Stan Chang said.

Japan’s TOPIX gained 1.1 percent as the yen slid 0.4 percent to 109.12 per US dollar on Friday, falling for a third day. That is the first time since September 2008 that it has traded at 109 per US dollar.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index added 0.6 percent with gaming shares Sands China Ltd (金沙中國) and Galaxy Entertainment Group Ltd (銀河娛樂集團) rising the most. The Hang Seng China Enterprises Index of mainland stocks traded in the territory fell 0.2 percent.

South Korea’s KOSPI and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index both rose 0.3 percent. Singapore’s Straits Times gained 0.3 percent, New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index advanced 0.5 percent, China’s Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.6 percent and India S&P BSE Sensex Index added 0.1 percent. Philippine markets were closed owing to a huge storm battering the capital.