Asian markets rose yesterday with traders expecting the final go-ahead for Greece’s second bailout soon, although they were unfazed by fresh easing measures from Japan’s central bank.
Japanese shares gave up earlier gains and ended nearly flat after the Bank of Japan decided to keep interest rates unchanged at nearly zero.
The Nikkei 225 Index edged up 0.09 percent, or 9.22 points, at 9,899.08.
Matsui Securities market analyst Tomoichiro Kubota said investors were scooping up shares on hopes of further easing measures, but some of them were disappointed by the announcement.
Chinese shares closed up 0.86 percent. The Shanghai Composite Index ended up 20.94 points at 2,455.80.
“The market is likely to be directionless in coming sessions as investors need to see more evidence to justify the view that China won’t experience a hard landing,” Zhang Zhizhou, an analyst at CEBM Group, said.
Sydney rose 1.21 percent, or 50.9 points, to 4,347.6 and Seoul jumped 1.13 percent, or 22.54 points, to 2,025.04.
German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble lifted spirits when he said on Monday that the remainder of a package of loans from eurozone governments under a second Greek bailout will be signed off this week.
HONG KONG: Shares produced a fourth straight gain yesterday, powered by financial and energy stocks, but turnover was sluggish ahead of a policy decision by the US Federal Reserve.
The Hang Seng Index rose 0.97 percent, or 205.52 points, to 21,339.70.
“Investors are chasing gains, but it’s still a very thin market,” said Jackson Wong, vice-president for equity sales at Tanrich Securities.
SINGAPORE: Southeast Asian stock markets were mostly higher yesterday after a choppy session, with Singapore climbing to a one-week high as property shares led the way.
Volume was generally light and market players appeared reluctant to chase regional stocks further while waiting to see what the US Federal Reserve would say later in the day.
Singapore’s Straits Times Index gained 0.91 percent, or 26.89 points, to 2,989.07.
KUALA LUMPUR: SHARE prices on Bursa Malaysia closed on a softer note from selling activities, mainly in finance-related and small cap stocks led by United Plantations, dealers said.
The benchmark FTSE Bursa Malaysia KLCI closed 0.73 point lower at 1,564.02. The market barometer, which opened a marginal 0.09 point better at 1,564.84, managed to climb as high as 1,569.15 yesterday.
Dealers said the local bourse’s weaker performance was an indication of its defensive stance unlike a more steadier trend seen in the global equity markets in anticipation of an encouraging outcome from the Federal Reserve policymakers meeting later.
In other markets:
* Taipei finished 1.31 percent, or 103.96 points, higher at 8,031.51.
* Manila closed 0.61 percent, or 30.58 points, up at 5,005.75.
* Jakarta rose 0.53 percent, or 21.30 points, to 4,008.64.
* Bangkok was up 0.29 percent, or 3.38 points, at 1,153.56.
* Mumbai rose 225.95 points or 1.28 percent to 17,813.62, a third straight day of gains.
EUROPE: European shares rose yesterday, closing in on multi-month peaks, as strong German sentiment data boosted confidence in the health of the global economy and with further impetus expected from US retail sales numbers later in the session.
The Euro STOXX 50 was up 1.1 percent at 2,541.61 points by 1131 GMT, hitting session highs after the ZEW. The broader FTSE Eurofirst 300 also added 1.1 percent, to 1,089.21 points.
London’s benchmark FTSE 100 index climbed 0.88 percent to 5,944.47 points. Frankfurt’s DAX 30 won 0.96 percent to 6,967.79 points and in Paris the CAC 40 gained 1.03 percent to 3,526.21 approaching the half-way mark.
AMERICA: Bank stocks turbocharged what was already a big market rally Tuesday, and all three major stock indexes posted their biggest gains of the year. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 218 points and closed at its highest level since the end of 2007.
The Nasdaq composite closed above 3,000 for the first time since December 2000.
Stocks climbed from the opening bell after the government said February retail sales gains were the strongest since September.
Then JPMorgan Chase, the country’s largest bank by assets, announced that it plans to buy back as much as $15 billion of its stock and raise its quarterly dividend to 30 cents per share from 25 cents a share.
The announcement sent other bank stocks higher. JPMorgan Chase gained 7 percent. Citigroup and Goldman Sachs gained 6 percent.
Major indexes added to their gains after the Federal Reserve said it saw signs of an improving economy. The Fed noted that the unemployment rate has declined and should keep falling. It also said strains in the global financial markets have eased.
The Dow finished at 13,177.68, its highest close since Dec. 31, 2007. The close put the Dow within 1,000 points of its all-time record, 14,164, set less than three months earlier, Oct. 9, 2007.
The Nasdaq composite index rose 56.22 points Tuesday, or 1.9 percent, to 3,039.88, its first close above 3,000 since months after the bubble in dot-com stocks burst.
Jack Ablin, chief investment officer at Harris Private Bank, said the key difference between the Nasdaq then and now is that the technology companies that dominate the index only promised profits 12 years ago.
Today, the Nasdaq’s largest companies are Apple, Microsoft and Google, corporate titans with massive earnings.
“The Nasdaq hasn’t done much of anything for 12 years, but it’s had a huge rally in earnings,” Ablin said.
The Commerce Department said retail sales rose 1.1 percent last month, the biggest gain since September. Some of the gain reflected higher gas prices, but consumers also bought more cars, clothes and appliances. Department stores had their biggest gains in more than a year.
The government also revised its estimates higher for December and January.
The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 24.87 points, or 1.8 percent, to 1,395.96. The S&P 500, a broad measure of the stock market, has already gained 11 percent this year, more than its average for a full calendar year.
Brian Gendreau, market strategist at Cetera Financial, said stocks could still go higher. Investors are paying roughly 13 times the past year’s earnings for the S&P 500 index. The long-term average is closer to 15.
“Valuations are still very cheap,” he said.
A reading of confidence among small business owners also rose in February for the sixth month in a row. The National Federation of Independent Business optimism index reached its highest level in a year, helped by an increase in expected sales.
Benchmark Currency Rates USD EUR JPY GBP CHF CAD AUD HKD HKD 7.7608 10.1419 0.0933 12.1821 8.3974 7.8449 8.1690 - AUD 0.9500 1.2415 0.0114 1.4913 1.0280 0.9603 - 0.1224 CAD 0.9893 1.2928 0.0119 1.5529 1.0704 - 1.0413 0.1275 CHF 0.9242 1.2077 0.0111 1.4507 - 0.9342 0.9728 0.1191 GBP 0.6371 0.8325 0.0077 - 0.6893 0.6440 0.6706 0.0821 JPY 83.1600 108.674 - 130.536 89.9815 84.0611 87.5342 10.7154 EUR 0.7652 - 0.0092 1.2012 0.8280 0.7735 0.8055 0.0986 USD - 1.3068 0.0120 1.5697 1.0820 1.0108 1.0526 0.1289 Bloomberg