A soft lead from Wall Street and cautious profit-taking prompted mixed trade in Asian shares yesterday Tuesday February 23, as a stronger yen weighed on exporters in Tokyo and share glut fears stalked Shanghai.
A note of concern returned to the markets as traders watched for signs of progress on debt-strapped Greece, with meetings this week between European Union representatives and Greek authorities to discuss the country’s finances.
Investors were also happy to remain on the sidelines ahead of US Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke’s congressional testimony on the economy and monetary policy due today and tomorrow.
TOKYO closed down 0.47 percent, or 48.37 points to 10,352.10 as traders took profits from Monday’s strong gains as a stronger yen chipped at exporter share prices.
A strong yen dents corporate profits when overseas earnings are repatriated.
HONG KONG: Shares closed up 1.21 percent yesterday, driven by gains in heavyweight HSBC ahead of solid earnings being forecast for the UK bank.
The Hang Seng Index added 245.73 points to end at 20,623.00.
Banking giant HSBC rose 2.0 percent to HK$85.30, boosted by increased demand ahead of the company’s 2009 results due Monday. The stock alone contributed to a 59 point-gain for the Hang Seng Index yesterday.
SINGAPORE: Stocks finished hig-her yesterday.
The benchmark Straits Times Index closed up 0.91 percent, or 25.09 points at 2,782.55.
Genting Singapore, which owns the city-state’s first casino, declined 1.5 cents to 95.5 cents.
SHANGHAI closed down 0.69 percent, or 20.82 points at 2,982.58, led by financial, energy, steel and metal firms amid lingering tightening concerns and worries over an impending increase in share supply.
“Investors are wary of the tightened credit environment,” said Zhao Jianxing, an analyst from China Merchants Securities.
KUALA LAMPUR: Share prices on Bursa Malaysia moved sideways to consolidate its recent gains yesterday.
Overall advancing counters overwhelmed declining ones by 383 to 267.
The Kuala Lumpur Composite Index (KLCI) fell from its intra-day high of 1,267.83 to its intra-day low of 1,262.43 yesterday. It closed at 1,266.43 points, giving a day-on-day loss of 0.01 point.
SEOUL ended up 0.11 percent, or 1.8 points at 1,628.90.
SYDNEY closed flat with just an 0.8 point gain to 4,718.30 after spending most of the day in negative territory.
In other markets:
TAIPEI closed up 0.49 percent, or 37.40 points, at 7,597.44, with investors buoyed by fourth quarter data showing Taiwan had emerged from its worst post-war recession.
JAKARTA gained 19.38 points or 0.76 percent to 2,583.65.
MANILA closed flat, edging 2.45 points lower to 3,013.14.
BANGKOK rose 1.39 percent, or 9.78 points to 715.58.
MUMBAI rose 0.30 percent, or 49.27 points to 16,286.32.
VIETNAM: The index of Hochiminh Stock Exchange (STC) dropped 13.73 points or 2.69 percent to end at 496.29 pts with the total matching order trade of 24.35 million shares worth 994.56 billion dong, increasing 27 percent in volume and 25 percent in value day on day.
Similarly, the HNX Index slipped 4.04 points or 2.44 percent to 161.56 pts with the total market trade of 10.42 million shares valued at 329.5 billion dong, increasing 16 percent in volume and 11 percent in value against the previous session.
EUROPE: European shares fell yesterday after US consumer confidence data and house price figures unexpectedly dipped, with banks in Europe the worst performers.
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index of top shares provisionally closed down 1.3 percent at 1,010.29 points after being up as much as 1,029.80 earlier.
Banks took the most points off the index. Commerzbank fell 6.6 percent after it reported a wider than expected fourth-quarter loss. Raiffeisen International shed 12.2 percent of its value after investors feared a possible merger with parent RZB could slow growth at the lender.
The London FTSE 100 index shed 0.69 percent to close at 5,315.09. In Paris the CAC 40 index lost 1.32 percent to finish at 3,707.06 points while in Frankfurt the Dax fell 1.48 percent to 5,604.07 points.
AMERICA: Americans’ outlook on the economy went into relapse in February. Rising job worries sent a key barometer of confidence to its lowest point in 10 months, raising concerns about the economic recovery.
The Conference Board said Tuesday its Consumer Confidence Index fell almost 11 points to 46 in February, down from a revised 56.5 in January. Analysts were expecting only a slight decrease to 55. It was the lowest level since the index recorded a 40.8 reading in April 2009.
The news sent stocks lower, overshadowing retailers’ reports that showed stronger holiday profits but little improvement in sales. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 100.97 points to 10,282.41.
One gauge, measuring consumers’ assessment of current conditions, dropped to 19.4 from 25.2, the lowest level since 1983. The other barometer, which measures their outlook over the next six months and had been rising since October 2009, fell to 63.8 from 77.3.
The Consumer Confidence Index hit a historic low of 25.3 in February 2009 but then enjoyed a three-month climb to 54.8 in May, fueled by signs the economy might be stabilizing. Since then, it has been mired in a narrow range, dropping as low as 47, as rising unemployment took a toll, before climbing again for a three-month stretch.
The overall economy expanded at an annual rate of 5.7 percent in the fourth quarter, but only about one-fourth of that growth came from consumers. That marked the second quarterly increase in a row after four quarters of decreases.
Many economists expect new jobs to be created in coming months. Unemployment fell to 9.7 percent in January from 10 percent in December, and employers shed 20,000 jobs. But they still worry that joblessness will climb back up by next summer as unemployed people who abandoned job searches start trying again.
Benchmark Currency Rates USD EUR JPY GBP CHF CAD AUD HKD HKD 7.7626 10.4866 0.0861 11.9782 7.1611 7.3489 6.9154 AUD 1.1225 1.5164 0.0124 1.7321 1.0355 1.0627 0.1446 CAD 1.0563 1.427 0.0117 1.6299 0.9744 0.941 0.1361 CHF 1.084 1.4644 0.012 1.6727 1.0262 0.9657 0.1396 GBP 0.6481 0.8755 0.0072 0.5978 0.6135 0.5773 0.0835 JPY 90.166 121.805 139.131 83.179 85.3602 80.3244 11.6154 EUR 0.7402 0.0082 1.1422 0.6829 0.7008 0.6594 0.0954 USD 1.3509 0.0111 1.543 0.9225 0.9467 0.8908 0.1288 Bloomberg