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ASIA: Asian stocks snap four-week losing streak

PROFITABILITYWeak confidence has kept the Taiwanese market in the doldrums, with the tech sector’s sales data expected to dominate sentiment in the week ahead

BLOOMBERG AND AFP , TAIPEI AND HONG KONG

A man on a bicycle checks stock prices in front of a Tokyo brokerage as Japan’s benchmark Nikkei stock average surged 304.62 points to close at 13,072.87 on Friday.

PHOTO: AP

Asian stocks rose this week, snapping a four-week losing streak, after the US economy grew faster than estimated and commodity producers reported higher profits.

Toyota Motor Corp, which gets more than one-third of its sales from North America, and Honda Motor Co advanced more than 3 percent after the US economy grew an annualized 3.3 percent in the second quarter, more than economists expected. China National Offshore Oil Corp (CNOOC, 中國海洋石油), China’s largest offshore oil explorer, climbed 13 percent while Woodside Petroleum Ltd advanced 11 percent after they both posted earnings that beat analyst estimates.

“The US economy just refuses to roll over, despite the most dire predictions,” said Prasad Patkar, who helps manage the equivalent of about US$1.8 billion at Platypus Asset Management in Sydney. “Such a strong performance from the world’s largest economy is a big positive.”

The MSCI Asia-Pacific Index gained 3 percent to 125.30, the first weekly gain since the five days ended July 25. All 10 industry groups advanced this week.

The measure has dropped 21 percent this year as soaring fuel prices damped consumer spending and eroded corporate profits, while writedowns and credit losses at the world’s largest financial companies topped US$500 billion.

TAIPEI

Taiwanese share prices are expected to move in a narrow range next week amid cautious sentiment as the high-tech sector releases sales data, a dealer said on Friday.

For the week to Friday, the TAIEX rose 134.47 points or 1.95 percent to 7,046.11 after a 3.96 percent fall a week earlier.

Average daily turnover stood at NT$82.05 billion (US$2.6 billion), compared with NT$80.30 billion a week ago.

“The local bourse has been in a consolidation mode for more than six weeks. Weak confidence has kept the Taiwan market from moving out of the current doldrums,” Grand Cathay Securities (大華證券) analyst Mars Hsu said.

Hsu said the electronic sector’s sales for this month are expected to dominate investors’ mood in the week ahead, in particular after heavyweight Hon Hai Precision Industry Co’s (鴻海精密) unit Foxconn International Holdings Ltd (富士康) in China suffered a significant decline in net profit for the first half of this year.

Hon Hai Precision produces a wide range of products, ranging from cellphones to personal computers and consumer gadgets.

“The August sales may give investors more hints about the sector’s profitability. Investors are looking at how the high tech sector will benefit from the current peak season,” Hsu said.

However, Hsu said, the tourism sector may outperform the broader market on hopes that China will allow more travelers to visit Taiwan after the Beijing Olympics.

TOKYO

Japanese share prices surged 2.39 percent, ending above the key 13,000-point level on unexpectedly strong US economic growth and anticipation of a domestic stimulus plan.

The Tokyo Stock Exchange’s benchmark Nikkei-225 index rose 304.62 points to 13,072.87, the highest close since Aug. 18. The broader TOPIX index of all first-section shares gained 35.18 points or 2.88 percent to 1,254.71.

HONG KONG

Hong Kong share prices closed 1.4 percent up, dealers said.

The benchmark Hang Seng Index rose 289.6 points to 21,261.89.

The jump was led by property developers and banks.

SYDNEY

Australian shares closed up 1.4 percent, dealers said.

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