Asian markets mostly up, dollar rebounds

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A woman chats with her fellow investor at a private securities company on March 12, 2013, in Shanghai, China. Asian stock markets mostly ended higher Thursday as bargain buying offset early losses, while the dollar climbed against the yen after Japan’s parliament approved the government’s central bank nominees. AP PHOTO

HONG KONG—Asian markets mostly ended higher Thursday as bargain buying offset early losses, while the dollar climbed against the yen after Japan’s parliament approved the government’s central bank nominees.

Traders seemed broadly unimpressed by another record for the Dow on Wall Street that was fueled by upbeat economic data, while better-than-expected Australian jobs numbers were not enough to keep Sydney shares positive.

Tokyo rose 1.16 percent, adding 141.53 points to hit a four-and-a-half-year high of 12,381.19, Seoul gained 0.12 percent, or 2.40 points, to 2,002.13 while Sydney lost 1.18 percent, or 60.2 points, to end at 5,032.2.

Hong Kong added 0.28 percent, or 62.53 points, to 22,619.18 while Shanghai closed up 0.28 percent, or 6.31 points, to 2,270.28.

Regional markets have been seeing a correction following recent gains fueled by growing confidence in the global economy.

There were some further losses Thursday morning but they were reversed on many markets thanks to late bargain buying.

Investors have been spooked by a string of figures out of China recently suggesting the pick-up after last year’s growth slowdown may not be as strong as first thought.

On Wall Street the Dow edged up 0.04 percent in a ninth straight day of gains, its longest winning streak for 16 years and marking another record high.

US traders took heart from a report showing a stronger-than-expected rise of 1.1 percent in retail sales in February from January, though that was partly due to higher petrol prices.

The data lifted the dollar in New York, where it finished at 96.14 yen on Wednesday. The greenback sank to as low as 95.68 yen in early Tokyo trade but rebounded in the afternoon to 96.37 yen.

The US unit got a lift in later trade after the men tapped by Tokyo to run the Bank of Japan passed their first vote in parliament.

Governor nominee Haruhiko Kuroda and his proposed deputies Kikuo Iwata and Hiroshi Nakaso are strong advocates of the aggressive monetary easing that has seen the yen weaken in recent months. They are expected to pass an upper house vote on Friday.

The euro bought $1.2951 and 124.80 yen against $1.2956 and 124.56 yen.

In Sydney, shares dipped after a strong set of jobs numbers that, despite being positive, could dampen any new measures to boost the economy, according to analysts.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics said the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate held at 5.4 percent last month, defying most forecasts of a rise to 5.5 percent, while 71,500 jobs were created, much higher than the 10,000 forecast.

Macquarie Bank senior economist Brian Redican said the numbers were “extraordinary,” adding: “With that kind of employment growth there is no rationale for cutting rates.”

Oil prices eased, with New York’s main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in April, dropping 26 cents to $92.26 a barrel and Brent North Sea crude for April delivery shedding 12 cents to $108.40.

Gold was at $1,584.80 an ounce at 1100 GMT compared with $1,592.78 late Wednesday.

In other markets:

— Wellington rose 0.92 percent, or 39.95 points, to 4,381.10.

Fisher & Paykel Healthcare was 3.4 percent higher at NZ$2.71, while Fletcher Building added 2.4 percent to NZ$9.15.

— Manila closed 1.21 percent lower, shedding 81.85 points to 6,694.71.

Ayala Corp. fell 1.61 percent to 550 pesos, SM Investments dropped 2.09 percent to 1,075 pesos and Philippine Long Distance Telephone was off 3.64 percent at 2,860 pesos.

— Taipei lost 0.55 percent, or 43.75 points, to 7,951.76.

Leading integrated circuit chip design house MediaTek shed 2.7 percent to Tw$343.0 while Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. was 0.48 percent lower at Tw$104.0.

— Jakarta fell 1.01 percent, or 49.07 points, to 4,786.37.

Miner Aneka Tambang lost 1.52 percent to 1,300 rupiah, Hero Supermarket slipped 4.72 percent to 5,050 rupiah, while Indah Kiat Pulp & Paper rose 2.2 percent to 930 rupiah.

— Singapore dropped 0.27 percent, or 9.02 points, to 3,279.50.

United Overseas Bank gained 0.41 percent to Sg$19.71 while real estate developer City Developments lost 0.80 percent to Sg$11.17.

— Bangkok added 0.51 percent, or 8.09 points, to 1,586.79.

Hospital operator Bangkok Dusit Medical Services jumped 4.27 percent to 171 baht, while telecoms company Advanced Info Service lost 2.53 percent to 231 baht.

— Kuala Lumpur shed 0.33 percent, or 5.48 points, to 1,640.74.

British American Tobacco fell 4.4 percent to 59.88 ringgit while UEM Land Holdings gained 3.2 percent to 2.56 ringgit.

— Mumbai added 1.07 percent, or 207.89 points, to 19,570.44.

Software outsourcing giant TCS closed up 1.15 percent at 1,567.85 rupees and Tata Motors crept up 0.05 percent to 300.95 rupees.

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