Asian markets mostly up, dollar nears 100 yen
HONG KONG—Asian markets mostly climbed on Monday, with Tokyo surging as the dollar pushes back toward the 100 yen mark after the G20 cautiously endorsed the Bank of Japan’s huge stimulus measures.
Chinese shares dipped, however, as insurers suffered a sell-off after an earthquake struck Sichuan province, leaving more than 200 dead or missing and destroying villages.
Tokyo jumped 1.89 percent, or 251.89 points, to 13,568.37, while Seoul was up 1.03 percent, or 19.56 points, at 1,926.31. Sydney rose 0.70 percent, or 34.7 points, to 4,966.6.
Hong Kong added 0.14 percent, or 30.80 points, to 22,044.37 but Shanghai was 0.11 percent lower, shedding 2.47 points to 2,242.17.
The yen added to gains made in New York on Friday after the Group of 20 economic powers agreed that Japan’s huge monetary easing measures unveiled this month were necessary to boost the country’s stagnant economy.
In a statement following their meeting in Washington, G20 finance chiefs said the policy actions “are intended to stop deflation and support domestic demand”.
Many countries, including the United States, have expressed concern that Japan could be deliberately trying to force the yen lower to boost exports and cut imports via “competitive devaluation.”
But the G20, which includes the United States and Japan, called for more efforts to stimulate “strong, sustainable and balanced” growth globally, and took note of Japan’s efforts toward that.
The dollar jumped in New York to 99.52 yen on Friday, from 98.23 yen the previous day.
In European trade Monday it stood at 99.80 yen. The greenback is expected soon to break the 100 yen barrier, a level it has not seen since April 2009.
The euro fetched $1.3046 and 130.21 yen, against $1.3057 and 129.94 yen.
“The G20 effectively gave the green light for further yen weakness by supporting the aggressive easing by the Bank of Japan,” National Australia Bank said in a note.
“However, the G20 did add that it would like to see Japan also detail the structural reforms it can take to further boost growth.”
On Wall Street, the Dow ended flat, the S&P 500 jumped 0.88 percent and the Nasdaq added 1.25 percent.
In Shanghai, insurance firms weighed on the market after Saturday’s quake, which flattened thousands of houses.
Ping An and China Life were among the losers, although construction companies were up slightly on speculation of short-term construction work.
Oil prices were higher as New York’s main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in May, added 62 cents to $88.63 a barrel in the afternoon and Brent North Sea crude for June delivery rose 30 cents to $99.95.
An ounce of gold fetched $1,432.35 at 1040 GMT, compared with $1,414.20 late Friday.
In other markets:
– Singapore rose 0.45 percent, or 14.87 points, to 3,308.92.
United Overseas Bank slipped 0.48 percent to Sg$20.78 while real estate giant Capitaland gained 0.57 percent to Sg$3.53.
– Taipei added 0.50 percent, or 39.58 points, to 7,970.38.
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. gained 1.88 percent to Tw$108.5 while leading chip design house MediaTek was 1.40 percent higher at Tw$363.0.
– Manila surged 2.35 percent, or 163.38 points, to 7,120.48.
The index broke 7,000 points for the first time.
“You have a confluence of positives—strong earnings and excess liquidity—and what you have is a rampaging market,” Jose Vistan of AB Capital Securities told Dow Jones Newswires.
SM Investment gained 2.22 percent to 1,150 pesos while BDO Unibank rose 2.6 percent to 92.56 pesos.
– Wellington advanced 0.88 percent, or 39.16 points, to 4,438.66.
Chorus gained 3.41 percent to NZ$2.73, Telecom added 1.53 percent to NZ$2.57 and Air New Zealand was off 0.69 percent at NZ$1.43.
– Kuala Lumpur was flat, nudging up 0.40 points to 1,706.68.
UEM Land lost 1.5 percent to 2.70 ringgit, PPB Group eased 0.6 percent to 12.60 while Maybank gained 0.7 percent to 9.77.
– Bangkok rose 0.88 percent, or 13.64 points, to 1,559.10.
Airports of Thailand added 4.18 percent to 137 baht, while Siam Cement gained 5.19 percent to 486 baht.
– Jakarta was flat, edging down 1.54 points to 4,996.92.
Cigarette maker Hanjaya Mandala Sampoerna rose 0.24 percent to 83,700 rupiah, while cement producer Indocement Tunggal Prakarsa dropped 2.78 percent to 24,500 rupiah.
– Mumbai rose 0.81 percent, or 153.37 points, to 19,169.83 points, its second straight day of gains, on hopes of a cut in interest rates in May.
Mobile phone firm Reliance Communications jumped 13.47 percent to 97.7 rupees while private carrier Jet Airways climbed 7.37 percent to 549.5 rupees.—Danny McCord