Asia markets mixed on weak Wall Street

Thursday, 27 January 2011 00:01 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

HONG KONG, (AFP) - Asian markets opened mixed on Wednesday with Tokyo dragged down by a lacklustre session on Wall Street but Hong Kong and Shanghai slightly up on bargain hunting and Seoul lifted by strong growth data.

Tokyo’s Nikkei was 0.54 percent lower, Shanghai’s Composite was up 0.37 percent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng gained 0.11 percent and Seoul’s KOSPI was 0.68 percent higher. Sydney was closed for a public holiday.

In Tokyo, strategist Hideyuki Ishiguro told Dow Jones Newswires a correction was under way in Japanese share prices but this “will not be based on a deterioration in economic fundamentals”.

Hong Kong and Shanghai were expected to remain weak due to tight liquidity conditions on the mainland ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday, which starts next week.

Seoul was more buoyant, however, after data showed the South Korean economy grew at an eight-year high of 6.1 percent last year, with fourth-quarter growth slowing compared with July-September but still up on a year earlier.

“The figure was not a big surprise” but affirms continuing global recovery, said Daewoo Securities analyst Han Chi-hwan.

Samsung Electronics, Hynix Semiconductor and Hyundai Motor were all up, with the latter rising nearly three percent.

US stocks closed flat Tuesday after a slew of mixed corporate earnings and ahead of a key annual speech by President Barack Obama to Congress.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 0.03 percent, the broader S&P 500 index advanced 0.03 percent and the tech-rich Nasdaq rose 0.06 percent.

On Asian currency markets the euro fell against the dollar as profit-taking hit the common European currency after its rise to a nine-week high, dealers said.

The euro bought $1.3665 dollars in Tokyo morning trade, down from $1.3682 in New York late Tuesday.

The euro briefly rose to a high of $1.3703 in New York, passing $1.37 for the first time since November as greater confidence in the eurozone’s ability to manage the heavy debts of its worst economies provided support.

The single European currency eased to 112.34 yen from 112.58, while the greenback fell to 82.04 yen from 82.20.

Crude oil prices rose in Asia as traders looked for bargains after recent losses.

New York’s main contract, light sweet crude for March delivery, was up 24 cents at $86.43 per barrel.

The contract lost roughly six percent of its value as it fell for six straight sessions over the last week, and plunged to $86.12 in intraday trade on Tuesday, its lowest level since early December.

Brent North Sea crude for March rose 23 cents to $95.48.

Gold opened at $1,334.00-$1,335.00 an ounce in Hong Kong, slightly up from Tuesday’s close of $1,331.00-$1,332.00.