Tokyo leads Asia shares out of trough

Friday, 19 November 2010 02:16 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

HONG KONG, (AFP) - Tokyo’s stock market led Asian shares higher on Thursday after some spectacular losses among Chinese stocks, with the mood improved by expectations of a rescue package to ease Europe’s debt woes.

Tokyo shares, which bucked losses around Asia on Wednesday, briefly hit a five-month high on Thursday on improved appetite for the country’s stocks as well as signs of greater euro strength, which helps Japanese exporters.

The headline Nikkei index advanced 0.61 percent in the morning.

Elsewhere, Sydney’s S&P/ASX 200 was up 0.23 percent in the afternoon and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was up 1.19 percent. Shanghai’s Composite Index was up 0.21 percent, after sliding around 10 percent over the previous four sessions.

In the last week, investors have grown more optimistic about Japanese companies, particularly the nation’s banks, and a slight strengthening of the euro against the yen further improved sentiment Thursday.

Ireland has still to accept a bailout plan from the European Union and International Monetary Fund but crisis talks were due later Thursday and Dublin’s consent looked increasingly likely.

“A large amount of foreign investor funds, which had been pessimistic on Japanese stocks, are shifting stance,” Tsuyoshi Segawa, equity strategist at Mizuho Securities, told Dow Jones Newswires.

The euro edged up to 1.3560 dollars in Tokyo morning trade from 1.3530 dollars in New York late Wednesday, while rising to 112.77 yen from 112.50 yen.

The dollar was flat at 83.18 yen.

Meanwhile a semblance of calm returned to Chinese stocks after fears of government measures to damp down the economy eased somewhat.

Following data last week showing that consumer prices rose 4.4 percent year-on-year in October, the government on Wednesday unveiled steps aimed at easing public fears, particularly about food price rises.

Beijing promised to “improve” subsidies for poor families and ordered officials to ensure adequate supplies of vegetables, grain and coal and other energy supplies. However any decision on hiking interest rates is yet to come.

In Hong Kong, Taifook Securities said that, “the fear that China’s economic growth would be dramatically (decelerated) by tightening measures lacks rationale, as the point of the measures stems from the aim to cool an overheated economy, not stifle its growth.”In Shanghai, metals producers such as Chalco led gains, reflecting a recovery in commodity prices.

On Wednesday, US stocks ended mixed due to weak economic data at home, worries about the eurozone and ahead of the expected landmark return of General Motors to Wall Street.

The blue-chip Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 0.14 percent, the broader S&P 500 index was flat and the tech-rich Nasdaq gained 0.25 percent.

On Asian oil markets on Thursday, prices rebounded on reports of falling US crude inventories, after plunging more than seven dollars during the week.

New York’s main contract, light sweet crude for December delivery, rose 61 cents to 81.05 dollars per barrel. Brent North Sea crude for January rose 47 cents to 83.75 dollars. Gold opened at 1,344.00-1,345.00 US dollars an ounce in Hong Kong, up from Wednesday’s close of 1,332.00-1,333.00 dollars.