Asian stock markets climb, take cues from Wall Street rally and higher metal prices

Monday, September 27, 2010

Asian stock markets start new week with gains

BANGKOK — Asian stock markets kicked off a new week of trading in good spirits, encouraged by an improvement in U.S. indicators that provided respite from worries about the durability of the economic recovery.

An increase in U.S. corporate spending and a big jump in orders for manufactured goods, both reported Friday, extended Wall Street’s gains for September and carried over to Asian trading.

But gold was near a record high after briefly touching $1,300 an ounce, with strong demand for the safe-haven metal suggesting underlying doubt about the economic recovery.

Some analysts say stock markets could reverse recent gains if U.S. consumer confidence figures on Tuesday and second quarter economic growth on Thursday are disappointing. Japan, which reported a sixth consecutive month of slowing export growth on Monday, also releases a slew of indicators this week including its “tankan” business confidence survey on Wednesday.

“Going up too fast is never considered prudent. Stay cautious as the external environment remains fragile at best,” brokerage India Infoline said in a market report. “Key regions like the US, Europe and Japan are just limping along. If markets rise on one good statistics one day, there is always a chance they might fall on a bad report some other day.”

Japan’s Nikkei 225 stock average climbed 125.57 points, or 1.3 percent, to 9,597.09 with exporters advancing as investors bet the central bank will try to weaken the yen with further monetary easing when it meets next week. The yen hit fresh 15-year highs against the U.S. dollar this month, and led the government to intervene in currency markets to weaken the yen for the first time in six years.

Missing out on the gains in Tokyo was Japan’s consumer finance sector, which wilted on a Nikkei report that Takefuji Corp. was preparing to file for bankruptcy protection. Rival lenders Acom Co. and Promise Co. both plunged by about 12 percent. The Tokyo Stock Exchange suspended trading of Takefuji shares.

South Korea’s Kospi added 0.5 percent to 1,853.61 and Hong Kong Hang’s Seng advanced 1.3 percent to 22,401.98. China’s Shanghai Composite Index rose 1 percent to 2,616.06.

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 jumped 1.5 percent to 4,669.10 as higher metal prices lifted miners. BHP Billiton Ltd. was up 1.4 percent and rival Rio Tinto Ltd. gained 1.8 percent.

Hyundai Motor Co. fell 1.9 percent in Seoul after the South Korean automaker said it is voluntarily recalling 139,500 Sonata sedans in the U.S. because of a manufacturing defect that could cause drivers to lose steering control.

In New York on Friday, the Dow Jones industrial average rose 197.84, or 1.9 percent, to close at 10,860.26. The Dow has risen 8.4 percent in September, but is only up 4.1 percent for the year and is still 3.1 percent below its 2010 high reached on April 26.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 23.84, or 2.1 percent, to 1,148.67, ending a three-day losing streak. The Nasdaq composite index rose 54.14, or 2.3 percent, to 2,381.22.

Benchmark crude for November delivery was down 6 cents at $76.43 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose $1.31 to settle at $76.49 a barrel on Friday.

In currencies, the dollar rose to 84.24 yen from 84.17 yen. The euro fell to $1.3474 from $1.3492.

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