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Asian markets rise, Tokyo hits post-Lehman high

Fri, Mar 8, 2013

Business Finance

Closings for key Asia-Pacific stock markets
Closings for key Asia-Pacific stock markets
(©AFP Graphic)

Asian markets climbed on Friday following another record-breaking close for Wall Street’s Dow Jones index, while Tokyo hit its highest level since the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008.

The Japanese currency fell to a three-and-a-half-year low against the dollar and also sank against the euro as investors look to the Bank of Japan’s next policy meeting, on expectations of a further loosening of monetary policy.

Tokyo closed up 2.64 percent, or 315.54 points, at 12,283.62, its highest level since the collapse of Wall Street banking giant Lehman Brothers heralded the start of the global financial crisis.

Sydney gained 0.28 percent, or 14.2 points, to 5,123.4, Seoul was flat, edging up 1.61 points to 2,006.01, while Hong Kong added 1.41 percent, or 320.51 points, to 23,091.95.

Shanghai fell 0.24 percent, or 5.68 points, to 2,318.61 despite data showing China’s exports had surged a much better-than-expected 21.8 percent on year in February, even with the week-long Lunar New Year holiday, while imports tumbled 15 percent.

In New York the Dow ended at an all-time high for the third straight session, with analysts saying the market’s stellar performance had attracted more buyers.

The Dow ended 0.23 percent higher after breaking on Tuesday its previous record set in October 2007. The S&P 500 was up 0.18 percent and the Nasdaq climbed 0.30 percent.

Adding to buying pressure was another batch of upbeat data.

New claims for US unemployment benefits fell to 340,000, suggesting modest strength in the jobs market in the week before the “sequester” of $85 billion in deep federal budget cuts kicked in on March 1.

The report, which came a day after figures showed a rise in jobs growth in the private sector, boosted confidence that Friday’s much-watched US payroll and unemployment data would be strong.

Japanese shares enjoyed another bump as the yen resumed its downward trend, with investors betting that the man expected to take over at the BoJ will introduce more aggressive easing at his first policy meeting next month.

The greenback was changing hands at 95.38 yen in Tokyo afternoon trade — its strongest since August 2009 — from 94.83 yen in New York late Thursday, while the euro was buying 124.82 yen, compared with 124.28 yen.

The single currency dipped to $1.3085 against $1.3107.

There was also some good news on the economy front for Tokyo, with data showing the country had emerged from recession. Gross domestic product expanded 0.2 percent on an annualised basis in the three months to December, following contraction in the two previous quarters.

Oil prices were mixed. New York’s main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in April was up two cents to $91.58 a barrel in the afternoon and Brent North Sea crude for April dipped two cents to $111.13.

Gold was at $1,578.68 at 1115 GMT compared with $1,581.45 late Thursday.

In other markets:

– Taipei rose 0.69 percent, or 54.63 points, to 8,015.14.

TSMC rose 0.49 percent to Tw$103.5 while HTC fell 2.44 percent to Tw$259.5.

– Manila climbed 1.62 percent, or 108.64 points, to 6,833.77.

SM Investments gained 4.66 percent to 1,100 pesos while Ayala Land rose 0.48 percent to 31.15 pesos.

– Wellington rose 0.47 percent, or 20.55 points, to a record high 4,354.03.

Xero surged 5.9 percent to NZ$9.10 while Warehouse soared 8.3 percent to NZ$3.79.

– Singapore shed 0.27 percent, or 9.01 points, to close at 3,289.53.

United Overseas Bank gained 0.30 percent to Sg$19.79 while farm commodities supplier Olam dropped 0.30 percent to Sg$1.67.

– Jakarta ended up 0.54 percent, or 26.20 points, at 4,874.50.

Cement producer Semen Indonesia gained 1.67 percent to 18,300 rupiah and lender Bank Permata rose 1.86 percent to 1,640.00 rupiah.

– Bangkok rose 0.38 percent or 5.94 points to close at 1,566.92.

Coal producer Banpu shed 0.25 percent or 1.00 baht to 392.00 baht and energy firm PTT Plc lost 1.15 percent or 4.00 baht to 335.00 baht.

– Kuala Lumpur shares gained 0.18 percent, or 3.03 points, to 1,653.96.

RHB Capital added 2.5 percent to 8.20 ringgit, while Genting rose 1.4 percent to 10.04. Astro Malaysia Holdings dipped 0.7 percent to 2.79 ringgit.

– Mumbai rose 1.39 percent, or 269.69 points, to 19,683.23 points.

Jet Airways jumped 9.93 percent to 554.10 rupees while housing finance firm HDFC rose 4.04 percent to 813.25 rupees.

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