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Asian stocks mixed, Tokyo surges after holiday

A photographer takes a picture of an electronic stock board showing Nikkei 225 stock index at a securities firm in Tokyo, Tuesday, May 7, 2013. Asian stock markets were mixed Tuesday, with Tokyo soaring to its highest close in almost five years after a four-day holiday weekend. AP PHOTO/KOJI SASAHARA

HONG KONG—Asian markets were mixed Tuesday, with Tokyo soaring to its highest close in almost five years after a four-day holiday weekend but with other major bourses following Wall Street’s uncertain lead.

Japan’s Nikkei added 3.55 percent, or 486.20 points, to 14,180.24—its best finish since June 2008—as investors caught up with several positive reports from last week, including favorable US jobs data and a European Central Bank (ECB) interest rate cut.

Seoul fell 0.36 percent, or 7.13 points, to close at 1,954.35 and Sydney lost 0.24 percent, or 12.5 points, to end at 5,143.7 after Australia’s central bank cut interest rates to a record low of 2.75 percent.

Hong Kong rose 0.58 percent, or 132 points, to 23,047.09 while Shanghai edged up 0.20 percent as investors opted to stay on the sidelines before the release of economic figures later this week.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index increased 4.40 points to 2,235.57.

Tokyo rocketed on its first day of trading following the Golden Week break, aided by a United States Labor Department report on Friday that said the US economy added 165,000 jobs in April.

The department also revised sharply upwards its jobs figures for the previous two months, helping to send the unemployment rate down to 7.5 percent.

On Thursday the ECB cut its key rates to an all-time low of 0.50 percent—a decision that came after Tokyo had closed for the holiday.

“Signs that the US economy is improving, as well as the ECB’s rate cut, are most encouraging fundamentally,” said Hiroichi Nishi, general manager of equities at SMBC Nikko Securities.

Japan’s main bourse has been buoyed in recent months due to aggressive central bank easing, which has helped push down the value of the yen, making exports more competitive overseas.

On the forex market Tuesday the dollar was buying 99.09 yen, down from 99.31 in New York late Monday but well above the 97-yen range in pre-holiday May 2 trading.

The euro was at $1.3080 from $1.3074. The single currency was also buying 129.64 yen from 129.87 yen in US trading.

Trading in Chinese shares was subdued before the release of trade data on Wednesday, followed by inflation and industrial output figures on Thursday.

Investors were also watching for further news on North Korea after US defence officials said it had moved two missiles from launch sites on the country’s eastern coast.

The move could signal lowered tensions following worries Pyongyang was ready to test-fire the weapons.

US stocks closed mixed Monday, with the broad-based S&P 500 edging up 0.19 percent to a new all-time closing high of 1,617.50 while the Dow Jones Industrial Average was flat at 14,968.89.

In Europe Tuesday, London and Frankfurt opened up 0.17 percent while Paris was flat.

Oil was down in Asian trade, with New York’s main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in June, dropping 66 cents to $95.56 a barrel in the afternoon. Brent North Sea crude for June delivery shed 58 cents to $104.88.

Gold was at $1,460.00 an ounce at 1030 GMT compared with $1,476.70 late Monday.

In other markets:

– Wellington rose 0.55 percent, or 25.50 points, to 4,621.73.

Fletcher Building was up 3.05 percent at NZ$8.44 while Air New Zealand rose 0.34 percent to NZ$1.495

– Taipei was flat, easing 5.99 points to 8,163.06.

HTC fell 0.36 percent to Tw$279.5 while TSMC rose 0.9 percent to Tw$112.5.

– Manila slid 0.34 percent, or 24.53 points, to 7,146.12.

SM Investments Corp. slid 1.03 percent to 1,150 pesos and Ayala Land Inc. eased 0.9 percent to 32.10 pesos.

– Singapore rose 0.03 percent, or 0.87 points, to close at 3,383.16.

Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp. gained 0.92 percent to Sg$10.95 while real estate developer Capitaland dropped 1.35 percent to Sg$3.66.

– Jakarta rose 1.02 percent, or 50.92 points, to 5,042.79.

Palm oil firm Sinar Mas Agro Resources and Technology jumped 6.25 percent to 6,800 rupiah, while food manufacturer Indofood Sukses Makmur fell 1.35 percent to 7,300.00 rupiah.

– Kuala Lumpur increased 1.41 percent, or 24.71 points, to 1,776.73

Top Glove Corp. gained 2.2 percent to 6.40 ringgit, while CIMB Group Holdings added 3.6 percent to 8.65 ringgit. Petronas Chemicals Group fell 0.3 percent to 6.58 ringgit.

– Bangkok rose 1.47 percent, or 22.20 points, to 1,601.15.

Banpu shed 2.70 percent, or 9 baht, to 324 baht, but PTT Plc rose 1.23 percent, or 4 baht, to 330 baht.

– Mumbai rose 1.09 percent, or 215.31 points, to a three-month high of 19,888.95.

India’s mobile phone firm Bharti Airtel rose 3.14 percent to 330.05 rupees while leading vehicle maker Tata Motors rose 2.58 percent to 298.55 rupees.—Peter Hutchison

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Tags: Asia , Finance , Forex , gold price , oil prices , Stock Activity , stocks

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