Asian stock markets encouraged by Portugal debt auction, softer yen; Europe mixed

By Elaine Kurtenbach, AP
Thursday, September 9, 2010

Asian shares mostly rise as Europe worries ease

SHANGHAI — World stocks were mostly higher Thursday as news of a successful bond sale by Portugal eased worries over Europe’s debt woes. But Chinese shares fell on fears that authorities might do more to cool the property sector.

European markets were mixed in early trading, with Britain’s FTSE 100 rebounding from early losses to edge 0.2 percent higher to 5,439.37, while Germany’s DAX added less than 0.1 percent to 6,166.57. France’s CAC-40 slipped less than 0.1 percent to 3,676.78.

Wall Street was set for slight gains with Dow futures up 7 points, or 0.1 percent, at 10,399 and broader S&P futures ahead by 0.9, or 0.1 percent, at 1,100.10.

Investors took heart after Portugal, which along with Greece is viewed as having the feeblest public finances in the 16 country euro-zone, raised euro1.04 billion ($1.3 billion) in a debt auction Wednesday. That followed a successful debt auction by Poland.

Asia saw moderate advances following Wall Street’s gains on Wednesday. Japan’s Nikkei 225 stock average advanced 73.79, or 0.8 percent, to 9,098.39 as the yen softened after hitting a fresh 15-year high against the U.S. dollar on Wednesday.

Major exporters like Sony Corp., Canon Inc. and Honda Motor Co. gained on improving sentiment as the yen neared the 84-yen per dollar line after slipping to 83.35 yen.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index added 0.4 percent to 21,167.27.

“The rebound on Wall Street revived buying interest, but the market lacks fresh incentives, and investors are watching for economic data and concerned about possible measures to curb inflation,” said Ben Kwong Man Bun, chief operating officer at KGI Securities in Hong Kong.

Profit-taking in shares in mainland Chinese-based companies also was weighing on investor sentiment, he said.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index lost 1.4 percent to 2,656.35, as did the Shenzhen Composite Index of China’s smaller, second market, which closed at 1,179.13.

Real estate companies were among major decliners, with Poly Real Estate dropping 4.1 percent, while China Vanke lost 3.4 percent.

China is due to release trade and other economic indicators on Friday, with an update on inflation scheduled for Monday, adding to worries that signs of a rebound in property dealings might prompt fresh measures to discourage speculative buying.

“Investors are jittery over possible future policy adjustments both for industries and for the currency,” said Liu Kan, an analyst at Guoyuan Securities in Shanghai.

Elsewhere, Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 climbed 1 percent to 4,582.20 a day after the country’s Labour Party secured support from independent lawmakers to form a new government.

Investors also digested news that authorities again blocked National Australia Bank’s takeover bid for rival AXA Asia Pacific Holdings Ltd. Shares of National Australia Bank Ltd. surged 3.7 percent, while those of AXA plunged 6.6 percent.

South Korea’s Kospi gained 0.3 percent to 1,784.36 after the Bank of Korea left its key interest rate near a record low for a second straight month, citing risks to the global growth outlook.

Among decliners, Taiwan’s benchmark share index fell 0.2 percent and New Zealand’s shed 0.3 percent.

In New York on Wednesday, the Dow Jones industrial average gained 46.32, or 0.5 percent, to close at 10,387.01. The Dow had been up as much as 86 points earlier in the day before paring those gains after the Fed’s regional economic report came out.

The S&P 500 index rose 7.03 or 0.6 percent, to 1,098.87, while the Nasdaq rose 19.98, or 0.9 percent, to 2,228.87.

In currencies, the dollar fell to 83.72 yen 83.92 yen in New York. The euro fell to $1.2710 from $1.2727.

Oil prices rose above $75 a barrel in Asia after a report showed U.S. crude inventories fell more than expected, suggesting demand may be improving.

Benchmark oil for October delivery was up 48 cents at $75.13 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 58 cents to settle at $74.67 on Wednesday.

Associated Press researcher Ji Chen contributed to this report.

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