Asian stocks higher after tough week


HONG KONG: Asian markets mostly rose on bargain-buying on Friday, at the end of a disappointing week that saw Japan plunge into recession and a trumpeted Hong Kong Shanghai exchange link-up fall flat.

The yen made some inroads against the dollar and euro after hitting multi-year lows, but with eyes on the general election expected next month in Japan, analysts expect it to resume its downtrend.

Tokyo reversed early losses to end 0.33 percent higher, adding 56.65 points to 17,357.51, while Seoul rose 0.35 percent, or 6.80 points, to 1,964.84.

Hong Kong ended a four-day losing streak to rise 0.37 percent, or 87.48 points, to 23,437.12 and Shanghai climbed 1.39 percent, or 34.13 points, to 2,486.79.
But Sydney fell 0.22 percent, or 11.9 points, to close at 5,304.3.

US shares provided another record-breaking lead Thursday on the back of more positive economic indicators.

A regional manufacturing index from the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia surged unexpectedly, while the Conference Board’s Leading Economic Index, an amalgamation of several key economic indicators, also improved. Also, US existing-home sales gained in October for the second straight month.

The figures are the latest showing the US is well on a strong recovery track, despite weaknesses in the Chinese, Japanese and eurozone economies.

The Dow climbed 0.19 percent and the S&P 500 gained 0.20 percent—both hitting new peaks—while the Nasdaq added 0.56 percent.

Regional investors started the week on the back foot with the release of data showing Japan had slipped back into recession after a sales tax hike in April put the clamps on consumer spending. The news led Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to put off another hike planned for next year and call a snap election for December.

More yen weakness tipped

The news also fuelled speculation the Bank of Japan will unveil fresh monetary easing measures—just weeks after it ramped up its already vast bond-buying scheme on October 31—sending the yen diving.

However, in Tokyo trade Friday the Japanese unit picked up after hitting a more than seven-year low against the dollar and six-year low against the euro.

The greenback bought 117.64 yen against 118.22 yen in New York Thursday, while the euro bought 147.58 yen compared with 148.25 yen.

The Japanese unit got some support after finance minister Taro Aso told a regular news briefing that the pace of the decline in the past week has been “too fast.”

However, Yuji Saito, foreign exchange director at Credit Agricole in Tokyo, cautioned: “He is only saying that the yen’s rapid fall is not a welcome thing. But it does not mean that he wants to cap the move at this level.

“The [downward]trend will remain the same.”

The euro was also at $1.2544 from $1.2540.

Traders in Hong Kong and Shanghai largely brushed off the start this week of the Connect dealing tie-up that for the first time opened the mainland’s markets to the international community, albeit on a limited scale.

On the launch day Hong Kong investors had exhausted their daily allowance of Shanghai shares two hours before the close, but mainlanders were less keen—using up less than a fifth of their quota by the end of trade.

And interest faded throughout the week as investors, who were also spooked by more soft Chinese economic data, stayed on the sidelines.

Oil prices edged up on hopes the OPEC oil cartel will agree to cut output to prevent further declines.

US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for January delivery climbed 24 cents to $76.09 on the contract’s first day of trading. Brent crude for January gained six cents to $79.39 in afternoon trade.

Gold was at $1,196.81 an ounce, compared with $1,195.791 on Thursday.



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