Asian stocks mixed as uncertainty creeps in


Posted at Jun 26 2008 07:22 PM | Updated as of Jun 27 2008 03:22 AM

Agence France-Presse

HONG KONG - Stocks in Asia were mixed Thursday as uncertainty about the US economy lingered after the Fed kept interest rates unchanged and oil companies lost out as crude prices fell.

Tokyo saw a fall for a sixth straight day as the Fed's decision to keep rates at 2 percent -- without any sign they will rise in the near future -- kept them fearful further problems may lie ahead.

Shanghai and Hong Kong felt the repercussions of cheaper oil as investors quickly sold oil stocks to make profits on earlier rises.

Of the major markets the biggest gainer of the day was Sydney, which rose 1.3 percent as banks looked favorably on the Fed's rate decision.

Singapore also fell slightly, while Taipei dropped 0.55 percent and Seoul remained flat.

In other markets Mumbai was the biggest gainer, climbing 1.42 percent, while Manila, Wellington and Jakarta also saw rises.

TOKYO: Shares closed marginally lower, dealers said.

The Tokyo Stock Exchange's benchmark Nikkei-225 index slipped 7.60 points or 0.05 percent to 13,822.32, while the broader Topix index of all first-section shares fell 1.29 points or 0.10 percent to 1,344.79.

Resource-linked issues were hit by a drop in crude oil prices, with Nippon Oil falling 3.1 percent to 685 yen.

Electric Power Development Co., or J-Power, tumbled 6.8 percent to 3,810 yen after a majority of its shareholders rejected a demand by a British hedge for the energy giant to double its dividend.

Sony gained 2.8 percent to 5,060 yen and Tokyo Electron added 1.3 percent to 6,390 yen.

Sumitomo Mitsui Financial rose 0.6 percent to 858,000 yen. The bank said Wednesday that it would invest 500 million pounds (986 million dollars) in the British bank Barclays, which has been hit by the credit crunch.

HONG KONG: Stocks closed down 0.79 percent, dealers said.

The Hang Seng Index ended down 179.49 points, at 22,455.67. Turnover was 59.46 billion Hong Kong dollars (7.62 billion US).

Offshore oil and gas producer CNOOC fell 1.9 percent on lower oil prices, while PetroChina slid 1.3 percent.

Analysts said the city's benchmark index will likely remain under pressure in the short term as concerns over the US economy will likely offset bargain hunting.

Francis Lun, general manager at Fulbright Securities, told Dow Jones Newswires that he expects the index to find support at 22,000 points in the near term.

But Linus Yip, a strategist with First Shanghai Securities, said: "Sentiment remains weak and there is no strong catalyst ahead to buoy buying interest."

SYDNEY: Australian shares closed up 1.3 percent, dealers said.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index closed up 69.2 points at 5,307 while the broader All Ordinaries rose 58.4 points to 5421.5.

A total of 2.08 billion stocks worth some 7.26 billion dollars (6.9 billion US dollars) were traded, with 701 stocks up, 592 stocks down and 408 unchanged.

"Today was basically driven by the banks," Aequs Senior Institutional Trader Ric Klusman told Dow Jones Newswires.

Commonwealth Bank rose 1.96 dollars to 40.90, ANZ was up 38 cents at 19.00, National Australia Bank climbed 66 cents to 28.06 and Westpac gained 84 cents to 21.39. St George Bank put on 1.18 to 28.90.

BHP Billiton added 23 cents to 43.95 and takeover target Rio Tinto lost 32 cents to 136.18.

Gold miner Newcrest added 30 cents to 25.90.

SHANGHAI: Chinese share prices closed mixed, dealers said.

The market was still consolidating despite rising for two consecutive days.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index, which covers A and B shares, closed down 3.16 points at 2,901.85 on turnover of 69.2 billion yuan (10.0 billion dollars).

Analysts said the main index will likely trade between 2,800 and 3,000 in the short term without any incentives to trigger a sustainable rebound.

The Shanghai A-share Index lost 0.11 percent to 3,044.07 on turnover of 68.9 billion yuan, but the Shenzhen A-share Index was up 0.88 percent to 886.96 on turnover of 135.0 billion yuan.

PetroChina, the biggest index component, was down 1.40 percent at 15.54 yuan. Sinopec, Asia's leading oil refiner, shed 2.16 percent to 11.30.

The Shanghai B-share Index was up 0.86 percent to 217.96 on turnover of 237.0 million dollars, while the Shenzhen B-share Index lost 0.39 percent to 493.82 on turnover of 135.0 million Hong Kong dollars (17.3 million US dollars).

TAIPEI: Taiwan share prices were closed 0.55 percent lower, dealers said.

The weighted index fell 43.26 points to 7,811.80, off an early high of 7,904.90 and a low of 7,801.52, on turnover of 95.08 billion Taiwan dollars (3.13 billion US).

The barometer financial and electronics sectors fell 0.96 and 0.81 percent, respectively.

Tourism and transport rose 2.26 percent and 1.68 percent, respectively, over the launch of weekend cross-strait charter flights and an expected rise in Chinese tourists to the island starting early July.

Fubon Financial was down 1.51 percent to 32.65 Taiwan dollars.

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. lost 1.81 percent to 65.00 and United Microelectronics Corp. fell 1.18 percent to 16.75.

EVA Airways rose 2.84 percent to 14.50 while China Airlines added 1.85 percent to 13.75.

SEOUL: Shares closed flat, dealers said, with the KOSPI index dropping 0.13 points to 1,717.66, after rising as high as 1,734.86. Volume was 320 million shares worth 3.9 trillion won (3,76 billion dollars).

Technology bellwether Samsung Electronics rose 1.5 percent to 665,000 won following a recent selloff, in tandem with a firmer Nasdaq.

Hyundai Motor rose 0.5 percent at 76,600 won and Kia Motors lifted 0.9 percent at 11,800 won.

POSCO climbed 0.9 percent to 540,000 won, rising for the second session on its plan to raise steel prices.

Korean Air Lines fell 1.3 percent to 53,200 won and STX Pan Ocean slipped 3.0 percent to 2,100 won.

SINGAPORE: Share prices closed 0.19 percent lower, dealers said.

The blue chip Straits Times Index fell 5.67 points to 2,980.95 on low volume of 1.11 billion shares worth 1.46 billion Singapore dollars (1.07 billion US).

Oil rig maker Keppel Corp closed 2.1 percent or 22 cents lower at 10.88 Singapore dollars.

Property firm City Developments was a key gainer, rising 3.3 percent or 36 cents to 11.20. Southeast Asia's largest property developer, CapitaLand, fell three cents to 5.69.

DBS fell six cents to 19.00, UOB rose four cents to 19.02 and OCBC gained six cents to 8.39.

KUALA LUMPUR: Share prices closed 0.5 percent lower, dealers said.

The Kuala Lumpur Composite Index dropped 5.22 points to 1,203.89.

"Concerns over slowing economic growth, rising inflation and the resulting erosion of corporate earnings continue to hound sentiment," a dealer said.

"The market is likely to drift within 1188-1214 range in the near term," he added.

Top lender Maybank ended 0.05 ringgit lower at 7.20, Telekom Malaysia was stable at 3.30 while national utility company Tenaga Nasional dropped 0.10 ringgit to close at 8.15.

BANGKOK: Thai shares closed 0.52 percent lower, dealers said.

They said foreign investors also continued selling shares amid persisting political instability and volatile global oil prices.

The Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET) composite index lost 4.03 points to close at 774.39 points, while the blue-chip SET 50 index fell 3.17 points to close at 553.32.

Thailand's biggest energy firm PTT was unchanged at 306.00 baht while its subsidiary PTT Exploration and Production lost 6.00 to 183.00. Another major energy firm, Banpu, was unchanged at 544.00.

The kingdom's biggest lender, Bangkok Bank, gained 3.00 to 119.00. Kasikorn Bank edged up 0.50 to 74.50 while Siam Commercial Bank lost 1.50 to 80.00.

Thai Airways International edged up 0.50 to close at 22.00.

MANILA: Philippine share prices closed 0.4 percent higher, dealers said.

The composite index rose 10.81 points to 2,521.61 points, while the all-shares index gained 0.13 percent to 1,599.71 points.

Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT) gained 0.2 percent to 2,420 pesos. Conglomerate Ayala Corp. gained 1.8 percent to 275 pesos.

San Miguel Corp. saw its A and B shares both stay unchanged at 40.50 pesos.

WELLINGTON: New Zealand share prices closed 0.33 percent higher, dealers said.

The NZX-50 gross index rose 10.67 points to 3,291.97.

Market leader Telecom rose a cent to 3.63 dollars, Contact Energy gained five cents to 8.50, and Fletcher Building was up eight cents at 6.73.

Auckland Airport was up a cent at 1.93 dollars, casino company Sky City lost five cents to 3.15, and pay television operator Sky TV also fell five cents, closing at 4.25.

Retailer Briscoe Group dropped 11 cents to 99 cents after its second profit warning because of difficult trading conditions. During the day it hit a record low of 96 cents.

MUMBAI: Indian shares rose 1.42 percent, dealers said.

The benchmark Mumbai 30-share Sensex index rose 201.75 points to 14,421.82.

"The markets rose on continued short-covering. We may however see unwinding of positions if inflation data is weak tomorrow," said Bhaskar Kapadia, a partner with brokerage Pyramid Securities.

Inflation in Asia's third-largest economy rose to a 13-year high of 11.05 percent in the week ended June 7, well above the RBI's declared comfort level of 5.5 percent.