Asian markets mostly rise, Europe fears cap gainsBy Danny McCord
Philippine Daily Inquirer
HONG KONG—Asian markets mostly rose on Thursday as data showing China’s output slowed and inflation hit a two-and-a-half-year low lifted hopes for fresh easing measures to boost the world’s No. 2 economy.
However, weak European data dented recent optimism, while Wall Street and European traders provided an anemic lead after a three-day rally on central bank stimulus hopes lost momentum.
Hong Kong climbed 1.02 percent, or 203.95 points, to 20,269.47 while Shanghai added 0.61 percent, or 13.11 points, to 2,174.10.
Tokyo climbed 1.10 percent, or 97.44 points, to 8,978.60 and Seoul gained 1.96 percent, or 37.36 points, to 1,940.59 but Sydney eased 0.10 percent, or 4.3 points, to 4,308.3.
China said Thursday that its consumer price index rose 1.8 percent year on year in July, in line with forecasts but down from 2.2 percent in June and its slowest pace since January 2010.
The figures indicate Beijing – which has cut interest rates twice this year and lowered the amount of cash banks must keep in reserve – has more room to loosen monetary policy to kickstart the slowing economy.
Later the National Bureau of Statistics said that the country’s factories, workshops and mines saw a slowdown in output in July.
Industrial production grew 9.2 percent year on year last month, compared with an increase of 9.5 percent in June.
Separately, retail sales, the main gauge of consumer spending, also slowed, rising 13.1 percent in July compared with the same month last year.
US and European markets, which along with Asia have been rising this week on expectations of fresh sovereign bond-buying by the European Central Bank and other stimulus from the US Federal Reserve, took a breather Wednesday following poor economic news.
In Europe the Bank of England lowered its forecast for growth in the economy of non-euro member Britain to near zero this year, while the central bank of eurozone heavyweight France warned the country was likely to enter recession.
And in Germany, the eurozone’s economic anchor, exports fell 1.5 percent in June, while imports – a barometer of domestic demand – fell 2.9 percent. Adding to dealers’ fears factory orders fell by a bigger-than-expected 1.7 percent in June and industrial output declined 0.9 percent.
Standard & Poor’s also cut Greece’s debt rating outlook to negative, saying a worsening economy and political challenges could force another downgrade as the country nervously awaits the release of a new tranche of rescue money.
On Wall Street the Dow and S&P 500 closed with marginal gains, while the Nasdaq eased 0.15 percent.
In Hong Kong Standard Chartered bank ended 4.27 percent higher after its chief executive hit back at US claims it had hidden $250 billion in transactions with Iranian banks, breaking Washington sanctions.
The lender had slumped more than 15 percent in the previous two sessions following the allegations.
CEO Peter Sands on Wednesday said of the claims: “There are a lot of matters that we don’t recognize, we don’t understand and are factually inaccurate.”
On currency markets the euro bought $1.2336 and 96.80 yen in late afternoon trade, compared with $1.2363 and 96.99 yen in New York late Wednesday.
The dollar was quoted at 78.47 yen against against 78.45 yen.
The yen got a slight boost after the Bank of Japan said it would hold off any new monetary easing measure for now and repeated its view that the economy was picking up moderately.
Oil prices were higher. New York’s main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in September, fell 29 cents to $93.16 a barrel in the late afternoon and Brent North Sea crude for September fell 31 cents to $112.25 111.83.
Gold was at $1,613.25 at 1100 GMT, from $1,607.80 on Wednesday.
In other markets:
– Taipei rose 1.56 percent, or 113.9 points, to 7,433.70.
Smartphone maker HTC rose 3.81 percent to Tw$245.0 while TSMC was 2.24 percent higher at Tw$82.3.
– Manila eased 0.98 percent, or 52.06 points, to 5,256.61.
Ayala Corp. slipped 1.71 percent to 425 pesos while its real estate flagship, Ayala Land dropped 5.03 percent to 22.65 pesos.
– Wellington ended flat, edging up 1.82 points to 3,583.61.
Telecom gained 0.2 percent to NZ$2.665, Fletcher Building rose 0.8 percent to NZ$6.48 and Contact Energy was off 4.0 percent at NZ$4.80.
– Jakarta rose 0.99 percent, or 40.46 points, to 4,131.17.
Telkom rose 1.7 percent to 9,200 rupiah, cigarette maker Gudang Garam gained 1.2 percent to 51,250 rupiah, while Aneka Tambang fell 0.80 percent to 1,240 rupiah.
– Kuala Lumpur stocks rose 0.40 percent, or 6.60 points, to close at 1,642.52.
Financial firm CIMB Group Holdings rose 0.76 percent to 7.91 ringgit, while Malayan Banking gained 0.90 percent to 8.95. Utility Tenaga Nasional lost 0.43 percent to 6.94 ringgit.
– Bangkok rose 0.29 percent, or 3.57 points, to 1,217.70.
Banpu dropped 0.44 percent to 454 baht while Thai Oil Public Co. rose 3.02 percent to 68.25 baht.
– Mumbai fell 0.23 percent, or 39.69 points, to 17,560.87.
Top mobile phone firm Bharti Airtel slid 6.4 percent to 256.85 rupees.
– Singapore was closed for a public holiday.
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