Asian stocks rose for the second week, capping the MSCI Asia-Pacific Index’s biggest annual gain since 2003, after China raised its economic growth figures and Japan said industrial production increased.
“The global economy is just about bottoming out,” said Masaru Hamasaki, chief strategist at Tokyo-based Toyota Asset Management Co, which oversees the equivalent of US$14 billion. “I don’t expect huge economic growth, but I do see things recovering.”
The MSCI Asia-Pacific Index rose 0.7 percent to 120.45 in a holiday-shortened week. The gauge climbed 34 percent last year, its biggest annual gain since 2003, on signs government spending and lower interest rates are bolstering economies.
Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average rose 0.5 percent in the country’s three-day trading week, after factory output increased in November from October and the government said on Dec. 25 that gross domestic product will probably expand 1.4 percent in the year starting April 1.
The Nikkei 225 has plunged 73 percent since it climbed to an intraday record of 38,957.44 on the final business day of 1989, the world’s worst performer in the period. Japan’s broader TOPIX index rose 5.6 percent this year, the lowest return among benchmark equity gauges for the world’s 10 largest markets.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index both climbed 1.7 percent this week.
The Shanghai Composite Index advanced 4.3 percent this week as China raised its 2008 growth estimate to 9.6 percent from 9 percent on Dec. 25, and said last year’s quarterly figures will also increase.
“Consumer stocks are good bets as they will receive most of the government support next year,” Wei Wei, an analyst at West China Securities Co in Shanghai, said on Monday. Chinese central bank Governor Zhou Xiaochuan (周小川) said on Thursday the People’s Bank of China would maintain a “moderately loose” monetary policy.
The Shanghai Composite Index rallied 80 percent last year as government spending and a credit boom helped the nation’s economy recover from its steepest slump in more than a decade.
Taiwanese share prices are expected to see further upside in the week ahead on positive sentiment over the outlook for this year after the market gained 78.3 percent over the year, dealers said.
Foreign institutional investors are likely to rebuild their portfolios at the beginning of a new year, they said, adding high liquidity may continue to boost the market.
The market is expected to challenge 8,300 points or even go higher next week amid optimism over the global economic recovery. For the week to Thursday, the weighted index rose 215.52 points, or 2.70 percent, to 8,188.11 after a 2.82 percent increase a week earlier.
“After the market stood above the key 8,000 point level (for the first time since mid-June 2008) earlier this week, more and more investors are looking into a good 2010,” Grand Cathay Securities Corp (大華證券) analyst Mars Hsu said.
TARGETED TEXTS: The center’s head said that visitor numbers at scenic spots were greater than expected and people did not do a very good job of social distancing The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday sent two warning text messages to urge people to practice social distancing, especially by avoiding crowded scenic areas. The two messages were sent at 11:55am on the third day of the four-day Tomb Sweeping Day weekend, reminding people about social distancing and hand hygiene to help prevent COVID-19 infection. “When visiting crowded scenic spots during the Tomb Sweeping Day weekend, please keep a social distance of at least 1.5m indoors and 1m outdoors, wear a mask and wash your hands frequently. Please wear a mask and seek immediate medical attention if you are feeling ill
There is no need to lock down Taipei, but the International Workers’ Day long weekend from May 1 to 3 should be postponed, a public health researcher said yesterday. Although the spread of COVID-19 in Taiwan has not reached an extent that would necessitate the closure of any area, large crowds that gathered over the Tomb Sweeping Day holiday, which ends today, showed reduced vigilance among some people, National Taiwan University College of Public Health dean Chan Chang-chuan (詹長權) said. This reduced vigilance increases the risk of the virus spreading, Chan said, adding that the government should push back national holidays to
As more schools shift to distance learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic, lawmakers in Taipei yesterday urged the Ministry of Education to pay attention to the security risks associated with using the remote conferencing service Zoom. Following reports about privacy and security issues with Zoom, including that it sends data to China, groups such as NASA, the New York City government and the UK’s Ministry of Defence have reportedly banned its use. Zoom founder and chief executive officer Eric Yuan (袁征), a Chinese-American, has apologized, saying that the company would freeze the development of new features and shift its resources to
Seven new cases of COVID-19, including one domestic case, were reported yesterday by the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC), which added “diarrhea of unknown cause” to the criteria for reporting suspected cases. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said the domestic case — the nation’s 352nd — is a man in his 40s who lives alone, did not travel abroad recently and began showing symptoms on Monday. “The man sought treatment for a fever at a clinic on March 30, went to the same clinic again on April 1 for loss of taste and smell, and