RTTNews - Asian markets end in positive territory on economic data, recovery hopes

The markets across the Asia-pacific region ended higher on Friday on increasing optimism about global economic recovery. Positive economic data from China and Japan lifted sentiment on expectations that the world's third largest economy might take the lead in helping the global economy come out of recession blues. Profit taking ahead of the weekend however limited the gains across the markets while the underlying sentiment is one of optimism, despite weaker fundamentals.

In the U.S., traders were presented with mixed economic data. A report from the Commerce Department revealed that retail sales rose 0.5% in May following a revised 0.2% decrease in April. Economists had expected sales to increase by 0.5% compared to the 0.4% decrease originally reported for the previous month. In a separate report, the U.S. Labor Department revealed that initial jobless claims, a closely watched gauge of layoffs, came in at 601,000 for the week ended at June 6th. This was down 24,000 from the previous week's revised level of 625,000. However, continuing claims, which measure the number of people receiving ongoing unemployment help, rose to 6.816 million in the week ended May 30th. Due to an upward revision to the previous week's figure, continuing claims rose to a new record high for the 19th consecutive week.

Traders also digested the results of the Treasury Department's auction of $11.0 billion worth of thirty-year bonds. The sale drew a high-yield of 4.72%, its highest level since August of 2007 but below estimates of 4.80%.

The Dow closed up 31.90 points or 0.4% at 8,771, the Nasdaq closed up 9.29 points or 0.5% at 1,862 and the S&P 500 closed up 5.74 points or 0.6% at 945.

The Nikkei 225 Average opened sharply higher at 10,088 compared to its previous close of 9,981, and continued to advance further on recovery hopes. A positive closing on Wall Street Thursday and better than expected industrial production data lifted the market, as the index firmly traded about the psychological 10,000-mark. The index finally closed at 10,136, representing a gain of 154 points, or 1.54%. The broader Topix Index of all first section issues also advanced to 951, with a gain of 9.49 points, or 1.05%.

On the economic front, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said Japan's industrial production grew 5.9% month-on-month in April, revised up from the preliminary estimate of 5.2%. On a yearly basis, production plunged 30.7% in April. In a separate statement, the Cabinet Office revealed that consumer confidence in the country improved to 36.3 in May from 33.2 logged in the previous month, higher than economists' mean expectation of 34.0 for the month.

Crude oil prices ended lower by $0.72 at $71.96 a barrel in Asian trading, after advancing $1.36 to $72.68 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange on Thursday.

Brokerages led the gains in the market. Nomura Securities surged up more than 5% after Merrill Lynch raised its rating of the stock to buy from neutral anticipating better profits on increasing trading volumes. Daiwa Securities advanced 4.11%.

Retail stocks also advanced after an economic report in the U.S revealed that retail sales rose 0.5% in May, raising hopes of a revival in demand. Among the retail stocks, Seven & I Holdings gained 4.62%, and Aeon Co. soared more than 8.5%.

Shipping stocks also moved to the upside after the benchmark Baltic Dry Index, a measure of commodity cargo costs, rose for the first time in six days in London. Among the major stocks, Kawasaki Kisen advanced 3.2%, Mitsubishi OSK Lines gained 1.43% and Nippon Yusen rose 2.16%.

Oil stocks declined on lower crude oil prices and profit taking. Inpex ended down 1.94%, Nippon Oil Corp. edged down 0.82% and Showa Shell edged down 0.10%.

Financial stocks ended mixed on profit taking. Mitsubishi UFJ gained 1.72% and Mizuho Financial Group added 0.37%. However, Resona Holdings edged down 0.94% and Sumitomo Mitsubishi lost 2.90%.

In Australia, the All Ordinaries Index opened slightly lower at 4,045 compared to its previous close at 4,047 and moved higher on positive cues from Wall Street. However, profit taking at higher levels ahead of the weekend trimmed the gains, with the index retreating back to the unchanged line in the morning session. Despite the choppiness thereafter, positive economic data from China helped the market to end with a gain of 14.80 points, or 0.37%at 4,062. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index followed a similar trend and ended higher at 4,062, a gain of 15.00 points or 0.37%.

Crude oil prices ended lower with a loss of $0.72 at $71.96 a barrel in Asian trading, after advancing $1.36 to $72.68 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange on Thursday.

Metal stocks advanced following the better than expected economic data from China on expectations of increased demand from the third's largest economy in the World. The Statistics Bureau in China revealed that retail sales in the country rose 15.2% in May.

Oz Minerals surged more than 17% after the shareholders of the company approved a proposals to sell its assets to China MinMetals Corp. Mincor Resources gained 2.99% following the rise in zinc prices in the International market.

Mining stocks, however, ended mixed on profit taking. BHP Billiton, the world's largest mining company, declined 0.60%, while rival company Rio Tinto managed to end in positive territory with a marginal gain of 0.19%.

Gold stocks also ended mixed amid profit taking. While Lihir Gold shed 1.0%, Sino Gold ended in positive territory with a marginal gain of 0.50%. Newcrest Mining ended unchanged from its previous close amid volatile trading.

In the oil space, Woodside Petroleum edged up 0.07%, Santos declined sharply by 2.99% and Oil Search fell 2.13%.

Among financial stocks, ANZ Bank gained 2.49%, Commonwealth Bank added 0.96%, and Westpac Banking rose 0.91%. National Australia Bank ended the day unchanged from its previous close amid profit trading.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng Index opened sharply higher at 19,035 compared to its previous close of 18,791, and briefly continued to rise to as high as 19162, on positive cues from Wall Street. However, profit taking at higher levels amid valuation concerns dragged down the indices to below the unchanged line in afternoon session. Positive economic data from mainland China helped markets stage a recovery led by china-related stocks and the index finally ended with a gain of 98.65 points, or 0.52%, at 18,890.

Retailer Li & Fung soared more than 6% after retail sales in the U.S rose 0.5% in May. Li & Fung is the major supplier of retail goods to U.S. Retailers including Wal-Mart and Target.

Among resource stocks, Aluminum Corp. of China, or CHALCO, gained 3.45% on higher metal prices.

Mixed trading was witnessed among the property stocks. New World Development gained 2.05%, Sino Land advanced 2.52% and Hang Lung Property added 1.96%.

Among financials, HSBC Holdings gained 3.45%, China Construction Bank rose 2.93% and Industrial and Commercial Bank of China advanced 2.35%.

In South Korea, the benchmark KOSPI Index ended in positive territory, on positive cues from Wall Street, amid volatile trading. S after traders preferred to lock in gains in early trading ahead of the weekend. After opening strongly higher at 1,429 compared to previous close at 1,419, the market continued to drift downward on profit taking. However, elective buying in large-cap stocks by institutional investors helped lift the market above the unchanged line in late trading. The Kospi Index ended with a gain of 0.65% or 9.20 points at 1,429.

Chip giant Hynix Semiconductor rose 0.39% and South Korean electronics giant LG Electronics gained 2.08%. The country's leading steelmaker POSCO advanced 3.22% percent amid the news of rises in steel prices in China and the U.S.

In India, the stock market ended in the negative territory, despite unexpected production data, on profit taking after the markets rallied sharply in recent sessions.

The BSE Sensex lost 173.53 points or 1.13% to close at 15,238, and the broader Nifty Index shed 1.17% or 54.30 points, to close at 4,583.

Among the other major markets in the region, China's Shanghai Composite Index ended lower by 53.56 points or 1.91% at 2,744., Strait Times Index in Singapore lost 4.74 points or 0.20% to close at 2,377, and Taiwan Weighted Index slipped 1.81% or 119.14 points to close 6,448. Indonesia's Jakarta Composite Index, however, ended in positive territory with a gain of 1.36 points, or 0.06%, at 2,091.

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