Asian stocks lukewarm on Australia, Japan packages

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Feb 03 2009 08:03 PM | Updated as of Feb 04 2009 04:03 AM

HONG KONG - Asian markets were mixed Tuesday as dealers gave a cool reaction to a new stimulus plan in Australia and a promise by Japan to buy shares to help banks.

Canberra unveiled a 42 billion Australian dollar (26 billion US) package that Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said was aimed at supporting jobs "in the face of the unfolding national and international economic emergency."

The central Reserve Bank of Australia later cut interest rates by 100 basis points to a 45-year low of 3.25 percent.

And the Bank of Japan said it would spend up to one trillion yen (11.2 billion dollars) to buy shares held by commercial banks to ease credit flows.

Japan's Nikkei rose initially on the BoJ move before falling back and closing 0.62 percent lower and Hong Kong lost 0.7 percent, while Sydney edged up 0.3 percent and Seoul added 1.4 percent.

However, the biggest gainer was Shanghai, where hopes of more stimulus measures from Beijing sent shares higher.

TOKYO: Down 0.62 percent. The Nikkei lost 48.47 points to end at 7,825.51.

Although investors already anticipated the share-buy move, the timing of the announcement was a surprise, said Kazuhito Takahashi, equity information chief at Daiwa Securities SMBC.

"There is doubt over how much incentive the scheme would give to banks as selling shares to the BoJ means losses on them would be realized anyway," Takahashi said.

Mitsubishi Motors, which is reported to be slipping into the red in the financial year to March, lost 3.4 percent to 114 yen.

Hitachi rose 6.1 percent to 259 yen, a day after tumbling 17 percent to the lowest level in nearly 30 years on a warning last week of an eight-billion-dollar annual loss.

After the closing bell, the electronics giant announced a 4.1-billion-dollar quarterly loss while maintaining its forecast of the huge loss for the full year.

HONG KONG: Down 0.7 percent. The Hang Seng Index closed down 84.60 points at 12,776.89.

The market was weighed by selling of property stocks following reports of a rising number of mortgages in negative equity, dealers said.

Cheung Kong fell 6.1 percent to 66.20 dollars and Sun Hung Kai Properties dropped 4.86 percent to 64.65 dollars.

"There is no rush to jump into the market, as there are too many uncertainties over the US economic outlook," Jackson Wong, investment manager at Tanrich Securities, told Dow Jones Newswires.

PCCW bucked the downtrend. It rose 7.8 percent to 4.17 dollars on speculative demand ahead of a shareholders' meeting on Wednesday, when a vote will be held on a controversial bid by chairman Richard Li and China Netcom to take it private.

SYDNEY: Up 0.3 percent. The S&P/ASX200 was 11.3 points higher at 3,508.7.

Stocks retreated sharply following the stimulus news, down from a bullish 2.1 percent lead at noon, said IG Markets analyst Ben Potter.

"Since the stimulus and rate cuts were announced, stocks sold off significantly, losing more than one percent as traders bought the rumor and sold the fact," Potter said.

ANZ Banking Group was up 3.3 percent at 13.70 and Commonwealth Bank closed 9.8 percent higher at 29.05 after announcing late Monday it expected a first-half cash profit of two billion dollars, 20 percent above market expectations.

Rio Tinto was 2.4 percent higher at 45.53, while BHP Billiton eased 0.7 percent to 29.78.

Supermarket chain Woolworths added 1.7 percent to 27.61.

Qantas was in a trading halt pending an announcement to the market.

SHANGHAI: Up 2.44 percent. The Shanghai Composite Index, which covers A and B shares, closed up 49.13 points at 2,060.81.

China's State Council will consider stimulus packages for the equipment-manufacturing, textile and shipbuilding industries, the state-run Shanghai Securities News reported, citing unnamed sources.

The key index achieved its highest close since December 10, when it ended at 2,079.12.

Shanghai Zhenhua Port Machinery Company rose 3.7 percent to 9.53 yuan and Guangzhou Shipyard International Company rose by the 10 percent limit to 18.26.

PetroChina, the biggest index component, rose 2.1 percent to 10.57 yuan.

TAIPEI: Up 2.65 percent. The weighted index rose 112.83 points to 4,372.81.

The cement sector soared 5.98 percent, food rose 2.73 percent, electronics was up 2.71 percent, and chemicals gained 1.56 percent.

The market opened lower but then climbed, buoyed by a tech sector that has gained on other regional markets since the Taiwan Stock Exchange reopened Monday after the Lunar New Year break.

Top flat-panel maker AU Optronics rose 5.4 percent to 24.55.

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing, the world's largest contract microchip maker by revenue, was up 2.5 percent at 42.85.

SEOUL: Up 1.4 percent. The KOSPI gained 16.25 points to 1,163.2.

Analysts said the market was boosted by Japan's share buy-out as well as expectations of a new US rescue plan.

Samsung Electronics rose 3.48 percent to 490,000 won and LG Electronics gained 2.95 percent to 73,200 won.

Shipbuilders and carmakers finished sharply higher with Hyundai Heavy Industries rising 2.19 percent to 210,000 won. Hyundai Motor rose 3.56 percent to 48,050 won.

Korean Air ended up 0.2 percent at 33,850 won.

SINGAPORE: Up 0.39 percent. The STI rose 6.63 points to 1,711.92.

Bank shares closed mixed, with United Overseas Bank gaining eight cents to 11.62 and Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp easing two cents to 4.98.

Among property shares, City Developments was unchanged at 5.51.

Singapore Airlines closed two cents higher at 11.06.

KUALA LUMPUR: Down 0.5 percent. The KLCI dropped 4.78 points to close at 879.67.

Dealers stayed away due to a lack of leads.

Tenaga dropped 3.4 points to 5.70 ringgit, TMI slid 5.0 percent to 3.02 and Sime Darby fell 1.8 percent at 5.40.

MMC Corp rose 5.3 percent to 1.40.

BANGKOK: Up 0.66 percent. The SET rose 2.84 points to close at 430.69.

Traders remained wary as concerns continued to linger over a slowdown in the global economy, they said.

Top energy firm PTT Plc rose 1.00 baht to close at 155.00 baht.

Banpu gained 2.00 to 220.00.

The country's biggest lender, Bangkok Bank, edged up 0.50 to 70.50.

Thai Airways was unchanged at 7.10.

JAKARTA: Down 0.5 percent. The Jakarta Composite Index fell 6.31 points to 1,304.33.

Telkom fell 2.5 percent to 5,850 rupiah and Astra Agro dropped 1.4 percent to 10,700 while Antam fell 0.9 percent to 1,070.

Bank Rakyat Indonesia rose 1.2 percent to 4,400.

MANILA: Down 0.4 percent. The index fell 7.44 points to 1,826.13.

Stocks continued to feel pressure as dealers remained concerned about the global economic outlook.

"Investors are worried about the economy. A lot of jobs have been lost, and investors are awaiting government moves to pump prime the economy," Ron Rodrigo of DBP-Daiwa Securities told Dow Jones Newswires.

Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT) fell 0.2 percent to 2,095 pesos.

Ayala Land Inc. fell 3.07 percent to 6.30 pesos.

MUMBAI: Up 0.91 percent. The benchmark 30-share Sensex index rose 82.6 points to 9,149.3.

WELLINGTON: Up 0.32 percent. The NZX-50 index gained 8.79 points to 2,780.3.

Trade was quiet as investors said they had little to inspire them to buy or sell.

Top stock Telecom was down two cents at 2.67 dollars and Contact Energy advanced two cents to 6.88.

Meanwhile, Fisher & Paykel Healthcare lost seven cents to 3.38.