Asian markets mixed, Nikkei extends gains
HONG KONG—Asian markets were mixed Monday but Tokyo’s Nikkei extended its rally after last week’s Bank of Japan stimulus announcement that pushed the yen to its lowest level in almost four years against the dollar.
A worse-than-expected jobs report from the United States added to selling pressure, while continuing tensions on the Korean peninsula and a bird flu outbreak in China also weighed on sentiment.
Tokyo rose 2.80 percent, or 358.95 points, to 13,192.59—its highest close since August 12, 2008—while Sydney added 0.29 percent, or 14.1 points, to 4,905.5.
Seoul shed 0.44 percent, or 8.54 points, to 1,918.69.
Shanghai closed down 0.62 percent, or 13.71 points, at 2,211.59 in the first session since a long weekend closure, while Hong Kong was flat, edging down 8.85 points to 21,718.05.
The Japanese central bank’s announcement last week of a new wave of monetary easing has sent the yen tumbling about six percent against the dollar. This in turn has fueled a run-up in Tokyo stocks, with exporters the big winners.
In the first meeting under new governor Haruhiko Kuroda, the BoJ said it would double the money supply and aggressively increase asset purchases, while vowing no let-up in the battle against falling prices.
On Monday in European trade the dollar climbed to 98.60 yen and the euro was at 128.10 yen, from 97.54 yen and 126.70 yen in New York Friday. That compares with 92.71 yen and 119.66 yen before the announcement.
The euro bought $1.2994, against $1.2990 Friday.
The lead from Wall Street was weak after the US Labor Department reported the economy added only 88,000 non-farm jobs in March, a third of the February gain and the slowest growth in nine months. The figure was well below the average estimate of 192,000.
The Labor Department also reported the unemployment rate ticked down to 7.6 percent from 7.7 percent in February.
The Dow fell 0.28 percent and the S&P 500 slid 0.43 percent, while the Nasdaq shed 0.65 percent.
But David Scutt, treasury dealer at Arab Bank, told clients in a note that the outlook was not so bad.
“While undeniably weak, there were a few signs within the report that the slowdown may well be fleeting with temporary positions and hours worked both increasing for the month, something that usually suggests employers may well be on the cusp of renewed hiring in the second half of the year,” he said, according to Dow Jones Newswires.
There were also reports of heightened activity at the North’s nuclear test site, although the South Korean Defense Ministry later denied suggestions that a fourth nuclear test was imminent.
And in China traders are keeping tabs on the outbreak of a new strain of bird flu that has infected 24 people and killed seven of them.
Tourism-related stocks were the biggest losers in Shanghai, with Air China down 3.4 percent while China Eastern Airlines was off 3.23 percent.
Oil prices rose with New York’s main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in May, adding 74 cents to $93.44 a barrel and Brent North Sea crude for May up 90 cents to $105.02.
Gold was at $1,577.10 an ounce at 1045 GMT compared with $1,554.60 late on Friday.
In other markets:
– Singapore shed 0.46 percent, or 15.17 points, to end at 3,284.61.
United Overseas Bank shed 0.44 percent to Sg$20.45, while farm commodities supplier Olam dropped 0.60 percent to Sg$1.66.
– Wellington fell 0.81 percent, or 35.77 points, to 4,397.20.
Telecom lost 0.41 percent to end at NZ$2.40, Fletcher Building was off 1.26 percent at NZ$8.65 and Air New Zealand slipped 3.99 percent to NZ$1.445.
– Manila ended flat, edging up 5.08 points to 6,732.22.
SM Investments rose 0.45 percent to 1,117 pesos and Bank of the Philippine Islands advanced 0.88 percent to 103.10 pesos, but Philippine Long Distance Telephone fell 1.80 percent to 2,836 pesos.
– Taipei fell 2.39 percent, or 189.56 points, to 7,752.79.
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. fell 1.99 percent to Tw$98.5 while Hon Hai Precision dived 2.77 percent to Tw$80.8.
– Jakarta fell 0.58 percent, or 28.55 points, to 4,897.52.
– Kuala Lumpur was flat, edging down 0.66 points to 1,687.99.
Tenaga Nasional gained 1.2 percent to end at 7.61 ringgit while SP Setia rose 3.0 percent to 3.47. British American Tobacco shed 1.4 percent to close at 62.04 ringgit.
– Mumbai edged down 0.07 percent, or 12.45 points, to 18,437.78.
Engineering giant Larsen and Toubro fell 1.78 percent to 1,324.8 rupees. Sterlite, a Vedanta group local firm, fell 1.85 percent to 87.6 rupees.
– Bangkok was closed for a public holiday.—Danny McCord