Most of the Asian markets rose in the week as investor sentiment was lifted on hopes that the policymakers in Japan would soon announce stimulus measures to boost the growth of the world’s third-largest economy.
Japan's Nikkei 225 Stock Average gained 2.2 percent this week and closed at 9737.56. South Korea's Kospi Index was up 1.9 percent and closed at 1995.04.
Japan faced a sudden development on the political scene in November when Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda dissolved the Diet ahead of the general elections, which will be held Dec. 16. Investor confidence rose on the hope that the main opposition, the Liberal Democratic Party, led by Shinzo Abe who is a proponent of aggressive monetary easing measures, will win the next elections.
Japan’s core machinery orders rose in October compared to that in September. According to the data released by the Cabinet Office Wednesday, Japan’s core machinery orders, which measure the change in the total value of new orders placed with machine manufacturers, excluding ships and utilities, rose to 2.6 percent in October from a 4.3 percent fall in September.
Meanwhile, South Korea’s unemployment rate in November remained unchanged from that in October but grew at a slightly slower pace than expected, moderately raising the optimism that the economy of the country is on the path of recovery. According to the data released Wednesday by the Korea National Statistical Office, the country’s unemployment rate, which measures the percentage of the total work force that is unemployed and actively seeking employment, rose 3 percent in November, at the same rate as in October and below the analysts’ expectation of 3.1 percent.
The Bank of Korea Thursday announced its decision to keep the policy rate at 2.75 percent, withstanding the pressure from the market participants for additional stimulus measures to give a boost to the country's weakening economy.
Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index advanced 1.9 percent and closed at 22605.98. China’s Shanghai Composite rose 4.3 percent and closed at 2150.63 points.
Market confidence was lifted after it was reported Sunday that China’s industrial production rose in November in comparison with that in the previous month, indicating an upswing in the manufacturing output. The data released by the National Bureau of Statistics of China showed that the country’s industrial production rose 10.1 percent in November from 9.6 percent in October and also more than the analysts’ expectation of 9.8 percent.
China's manufacturing activity expanded to a 14-month high in December, according to the HSBC Purchasing Managers’ Index released Friday. The preliminary flash reading of the PMI, a measure of the nationwide manufacturing activity, rose to 50.9 in December compared to 50.5 in November.
Significantly, the index remained in the expansion zone, a reading above 50. The expansion of the manufacturing activity should allay fears of a sharp retardation of the Chinese economy.
India's BSE Sensex fell 0.4 percent in the week and closed at 19317.25.
Investors maintained a cautious mode though India’s industrial output surged in October much better than expected. According to the data released Wednesday by the Ministry of Statistics and Program Implementation, India’s industrial production, which measures the change in the total inflation-adjusted value of output produced by manufacturers, mines, and utilities, rose to 8.2 percent in October from a 0.7 percent decrease in September.
According to the data released Friday by the Ministry of Commerce & Industry, India’s Wholesale Price Index, which measures the change in the price of goods sold by wholesalers, dropped to 7.24 percent in November from 7.45 percent in October.
Major Gainers: Shares of Sony Corp rose 9.6 percent. Shares of Komatsu Ltd climbed 2.3 percent and those of Toyota Motor Corp advanced 1.8 percent.