The major markets in the Asia-Pacific region ended higher on Tuesday on growing optimism regarding a global recovery after the sixth largest bank in the U.S, Goldman Sachs, reported better than expected financial results for the first quarter of 2009. The company also announced plans to raise $5 billion to repay all of the TARP funding it received from the U.S. government. Buoyed by the announcement from Goldman Sachs, the markets ignored the mixed closing on Wall Street and posted gains, primarily on the support lent led by financial stocks. However, the Nikkei bucked the trend and ended in negative territory, dragged down by property stocks.
The Dow closed down 25.57 points or 0.3% at 8,058, while the Nasdaq closed up 0.77 points or 0.1% at 1,653 and the S&P 500 closed up 2.17 points or 0.3% at 859.
In Asian trading, crude oil was down $0.26 at $49.79 a barrel in electronic trading. Light sweet crude for May delivery dropped $2.19 to $50.05 a barrel on Monday after the International Energy Agency lowered its projection of global demand for this year. Demand worries also heated up amid concern over upcoming earnings reports.
The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index ended at 8,843, down 81.75 points, or 0.9%, and the broader Topix index of all First Section Issues slipped 5.55 points, or 0.7%, to 843.
Property related stocks ended weaker after Sumitomo Realty & Development reported lower-than-expected earnings, primarily due to increased writedowns. The stock declined 5.60%. Among the other property related stocks, Mitsubishi Estate lost 2.16%, Mitsui Fudosan lost 2.50% and Tokyu Land Corp fell 3.99%.
Exporters ended mixed. While Canon lost 2.51%, Sony remained unchanged, and Sharp advanced 1.85%. Trading houses ended weaker on profit taking. Sumitomo Corp. fell 2.50% and Itochu slipped 0.70%. However, Mitsubishi Corp remained unchanged at close.
Automakers ended weak following the news that the US Treasury Department is directing General Motors (GM) to prepare for a bankruptcy filing by a June 1st deadline. Honda Motor fell 3.00%, Isuzu Motors slipped 0.71% and Toyota Motor lost 3.55%.
Financial stocks ended mixed. While Mitsubishi UFJ gained 1.13% and Sumitomo Mitsui edged up 0.66%, Mizuho Financial remained unchanged, and Resona Holdings fell 1.03%.
Oil stocks showed mixed sentiment. While Inpex edged up 0.28% and Nippon Oil advanced 2.33%, Showa Shell edged down 0.44%.
The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index gained 81.3 points, or 2.21% to 3,753, and the broader All Ordinaries index advanced 80.5 points, or 2.23% to 3,698. The market witnessed a broad based rally, with banks, miners, energy and retail stocks seeing strong buying interest.
On the economic front, the results of the latest survey of the National Australia Bank revealed that Business confidence in the country improved in March, with the index rising to minus 13 from minus 22 in February. A reading below zero indicates pessimists outnumbering optimists. The index of business confidence increased 3 points to minus 17, but remained at a low level not seen since 1992.
Among banking stocks, Commonwealth Bank of Australia gained 2.70%, ANZ Banking Group advanced 4.21%, and National Australia Bank rose 2.84%. Westpac moved up 3.35%, and investment bank Macquarie Group soared 9.03%.
In the resources sector, index leader BHP Billiton added 1.82%, Rio Tinto gained 5.34%, and Minara Resources surged 8.11%, on higher copper prices.
Gold miners ended mixed. While Lihir Gold remained unchanged, and New Crest Mining advanced 3.20%, Sino Gold declined 0.39%.
Among energy stocks, Woodside rose 1.63%, Oil Search edged up 0.75%, and Santos advanced 1.69%.
In the retail sector, David Jones gained 3.68%, and Coles' owner Wesfarmers advanced 3.00%, while Woolworths fell 1.64%.
Qantas Airways staged a smart recovery in late trading and ended with a gain of 2.04%. Earlier in the day the stock declined as much as 8% after it slashed its full-year profit forecasts and flagged further 1,750 jobs cuts and capacity reduction amid rapidly deteriorating trading conditions.
In South Korea, the benchmark KOSPI Index ended higher by 4.37 points, or 0.33% at 1,343.
On economic front, a report released by the Ministry of Justice revealed that the number of foreign visitors who arrived in South Korea in the first quarter rose by more than 25% over the same period to top 2 million.
Among the financials, KB Financial Group gained 0.38% and Woori Finance advanced 2.50%. Shinhan Financial however, ended unchanged from previous close.
Technology stocks are mostly higher. Hynix Semiconductor gained 3.36%, LG Electronics advanced 3.26%%, and LG Display edged up 0.16%. However, market heavyweight Samsung Electronics lost 1.37%.
Among the shipbuilders, Hyundai Heavy Industries gained 0.95%, Daewoo Shipping advanced 3.27% and Samsung Heavy Industries rose 2.46%.
In the auto space, Hyundai Motor edged up 0.30%, and Kia Motor remained unchanged from previous close. However, Ssangyong Motor lost 6.03% on profit taking.
Oil related stocks ended mixed. S-Oil advanced 1.64% but SK Holdings slipped 0.69%.
In Hong Kong, the benchmark Hang Seng Index gained 4.55% or 678.75 points to 15,580.
Bank stocks were the major gainers. HSBC Holdings surged 9.33%, Hang Seng Bank added 4.03%, Bank of Communications advanced 5.44%, Bank of China rose 4.61% and Bank of East Asia moved up 5.77%. BOC Hong Kong soared 11.58%. Other banks are ended in positive territory.
Insurance stocks also ended higher. Ping An gained 1.62% and China Life added 1.25%.
Resource stocks also ended in positive territory. Aluminum Corporation of China, or CHALCO, rose 11.05%, CNOOC gained 7.73% and PetroChina advanced 4.43%.
China-related stocks also ended higher. China Resources advanced 5.95%, China Mercantile Holdings gained 5.34% and China Overseas moved up 2.73%.
Among the other major markets, China's Shanghai Composite Index gained 13.48 points, or 0.54% at 2,527, Indonesia's Jakarta Composite Index advanced 1.94% or 29.86 points, to 1,570, Singapore's Strait Times Index edged up 1.08% or 20.25 points to 1,897 and Taiwan's Weighted Index rose 35.04 points, or 0.60%, to 5,893.
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