Asian stocks rose for the first week in seven after money market rates fell as governments in the region stepped up efforts to unlock credit markets.
Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc and Westpac Banking Corp. rose more than 6 percent as Singapore and Malaysia joined Hong Kong and Australia in guaranteeing bank deposits. Tokyo Electric Power Co climbed 16 percent as oil prices traded at half their July record and investors sought companies whose earnings are sheltered from a slowdown in overseas markets. The decline in oil and metals prices dragged BHP Billiton Ltd, the world’s largest mining company, down 11 percent.
“The focus is on what the next policy response will be and the movements of the short-term money markets,” said Naoteru Teraoka, who helps oversee US$21 billion at Chuo Mitsui Asset Management Co in Tokyo. “Long-term investors are sitting on the sidelines waiting out this period.”
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index climbed 1.6 percent to 87.29 last week, its first weekly gain since August.
The MSCI Asian index had its biggest-ever advance and decline last week, as investors weighed the likelihood that governments would succeed in preventing a financial industry collapse and limit the severity of a global economic slowdown.
Taiwanese shares closed down 2.28 percent, dealers said.
The weighted index fell 115.57 points to 4,960.40 on turnover of NT$55.33 billion (US$1.70 billion). It was the lowest close since the index hit 4,872.15 on June 30, 2003.
The market opened sharply lower despite the Wall Street gains, dealers said.
Selling which largely focused on large cap stocks extended until the end of the trading session, pushing the index below 5,000 points, they said.
“The breach of the 5,000 key point level was very psychological to investors. After the downside, worries about further declines are running deeper,” Mega Securities analyst Alex Huang (黃國偉) said.
Japanese share prices rebounded 2.78 percent, dealers said.
A weaker yen gave a boost to exporters, but most investors were staying on the sidelines.
Tokyo’s benchmark Nikkei-225 index climbed 235.37 points to end at 8,693.82, a day after plunging more than 11 percent, the biggest drop in two decades.
The TOPIX index of all first-section shares gained 29.77 points, or 3.44 percent, to 894.29.
While credit market tensions showed signs of easing, investors were worried that US and Japanese companies will report weak earnings in the next few weeks.
Share prices closed 4.4 percent lower, dealers said.
The benchmark Hang Seng Index finished 676.31 points down at 14,554.21, as selling pressure overturned a 70 points gain around noon. Turnover was light at HK$59.35 billion (US$7.61 billion).
The index was down 1.6 percent for the week, with strong gains earlier in the week ebbing away. The huge 2,587-point range during the week highlighted the volatility as investors remained nervous.
South Korean shares closed 2.7 percent lower, analysts said.
The KOSPI index ended down 33.11 points at 1,180.67, its lowest close since Oct. 31, 2005. Volume was 411.93 million shares worth 6.42 trillion won (US$4.81 billion).
Sentiment was eased by the central bank’s move to supply dollars to more banks and after Moody’s decided to retain the country’s credit ratings outlook.
Australian shares closed down 1.1 percent, analysts said.
The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index fell 42.6 points to 3,970.8, while the broader All Ordinaries lost 43.3 points to 3,944.8.
Chinese share prices closed up 1.08 percent, dealers said.
The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index, which covers A and B shares, was up 20.71 points at 1,930.65 on turnover of 26.2 billion yuan (US$3.8 billion).
The Shanghai A-share index added 1.08 percent to 2,028.03, while the Shenzhen A-share index rose 0.87 percent to 530.01.
Shares closed 3.73 percent lower, dealers said.
The blue-chip Straits Times Index closed at a four-year low, down 72.69 points to 1,878.51 on volume of 1.23 billion shares worth S$1.22 billion (US$826 million).
One trader said that, following news that governments worldwide were bailing out banks, “there’s nothing else to look forward to with recession prospects looming in the US. Sentiment is not good. It’s not time to buy.”
Malaysian stocks fell 1.6 percent, brokers said.
The Kuala Lumpur Composite Index closed 14.79 points down at 905.23. Declining stocks outnumbered advancers 461 to 204.
Thai shares closed 1.34 percent lower, dealers said.
The Stock Exchange of Thailand composite index lost 6.42 points to close at 471.31 points.
Indonesian shares ended 4.4 percent lower, dealers said.
The Indonesia Stock Exchange’s main index fell to 1,399.42.
Philippine share prices closed 1.1 percent lower, dealers said.
The composite index fell 24.11 points to 2,098.26.
New Zealand shares rose 1.59 percent, dealers said.
The benchmark NZX-50 index rose 44.08 points to close at 2,808.77.
Indian shares plunged 5.73 percent, dealers said.
The 30-share SENSEX slid 606.14 points to 9,975.35, a level last seen in June 2006 on heavy selling by overseas funds.
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