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Asia markets mostly lower, Tokyo the stand-out performer

/ 12:00 AM May 19, 2015
A man walks past an electronic stock board of a securities firm in Tokyo on May 14, 2015. Tokyo was the stand-out performer in Asian trade Monday, May 18, on upbeat corporate earnings and a record close on Wall Street, but Hong Kong retreated after its rally at the end of last week.  AP PHOTO/EUGENE HOSHIKO

A man walks past an electronic stock board of a securities firm in Tokyo on May 14, 2015. Tokyo was the stand-out performer in Asian trade Monday, May 18, on upbeat corporate earnings and a record close on Wall Street, but Hong Kong retreated after its rally at the end of last week. AP PHOTO/EUGENE HOSHIKO

HONG KONG–Tokyo was the stand-out performer in Asian trade Monday on upbeat corporate earnings and a record close on Wall Street, but Hong Kong retreated after its rally at the end of last week.

The euro held its own for most of the day before ticking lower toward the end, with no breakthrough in talks between Greece and its creditors on overhauling its bailout terms.

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Tokyo ended 0.80 percent higher, adding 157.35 points to 19,890.27, while Seoul gained 0.34 percent, or 7.22 points, to 2,113.72.

Shanghai shed 0.58 percent, or 25.20 points, to 4,283.49 and Sydney fell 1.33 percent, or 76.3 points, to 5,659.2. Hong Kong sank 0.83 percent, or 231.03 points, to 27,591.25.

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Regional investors were given a positive lead from New York Friday after more weak data indicated a US recovery may not be as strong as thought–making an interest rate rise unlikely in the near future.

US industrial production fell 0.3 percent in April, the fifth straight month of decline, while the University of Michigan’s US consumer sentiment index plummeted to 88.6 in May from 95.9 in April.

That came after figures last week showed the US producer price index fell in April, confounding forecasts for a rise, while retail sales saw their weakest year-on-year growth since 2009.

“Investors are likely to start the week in cautious mode as markets assimilate the impact of weaker than expected US data and wait on developments in the Greek debt saga,” Ric Spooner, chief market analyst in Sydney at CMC Markets, wrote in an e-mail to clients.

Global outlook subdued

“The first Fed rate hike now seems at least several months away. While this supports equity valuations, it also means that the outlook for world growth remains subdued,” he said, according to Bloomberg News.

The S&P 500 edged up 0.08 percent to another record high Friday and the Dow added 0.11 percent but the Nasdaq dipped 0.05 percent.

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On currency markets the prospect that US rates will remain at record lows for now had little effect on the dollar, which rose to 119.74 yen in Tokyo, from 119.41 yen in New York late Friday.

The euro fetched $1.1372 and 136.17 yen, against $1.1446 and 136.67 yen.

While the single currency remains largely supported for now, traders are keeping tabs on Greece’s talks with the European Union and International Monetary Fund as they struggle to agree a deal that will release billions of euros of much-needed funds.

With Athens warning it will run out of cash by the end of the month there are fears it will default on its debt obligations, which could lead to it leaving the eurozone.

In Tokyo investor confidence was lifted by the broadly upbeat earnings season, which is drawing to a close.

“Usually companies are quite conservative with their earnings forecasts, but this time the guidance seems to be considerably more positive than usual,” said Kuninobu Takeuchi, Tokyo-based executive portfolio manager at DIAM.

“With some 230 trillion yen slushing around on company balance sheets, giving some of that back to shareholders is being seen as favorable,” he added.

Oil prices were higher. US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for June delivery gained 89 cents to $60.58 while Brent crude for July rose 85 cents to $67.66 in afternoon trade.

Gold fetched $1,230 from $1,214.19 late Friday.

In other markets:

— Wellington rose 0.21 percent, or 12.33 points, to 5,772.71.

Fletcher Building climbed 1.28 percent to NZ$8.71 and Spark was flat at NZ$2.89.

— Taipei added 0.28 percent, or 26.62 points, to 9,606.1.

Hon Hai Precision Industry gained 3.97 percent to Tw$96.8 while Fubon Financial Holding was 1.26 percent lower at Tw$62.9.

— Manila added 0.36 percent, or 28.48 points, to 7,910.43.

GT Capital was up 1.63 percent at 1,433 pesos and Alliance Global added 1.43 percent to 24.75 pesos, but Universal Robina fell 3.13 percent to 204 pesos.

— Malaysia’s share index gained 0.64 percent, or 11.58 points, to close on 1,823.50.

Utility giant Tenaga added 2.58 percent to 14.30 ringgit, Maybank rose 0.43 percent to 9.36 while Sime Darby lost 0.55 percent to 8.99 ringgit.

— Jakarta ended up 0.21 percent, or 10.72 points, at 5,237.81.

Taxi company Blue Bird gained 2.11 percent to 8,450 rupiah, while cigarette maker Gudang Garam fell 3.12 percent to 45,050 rupiah.

— Singapore fell 0.10 percent, or 3.53 points, to 3,459.57.

United Overseas Bank gained 0.08 percent to Sg$24.20 while investment holding firm Ezion fell 4.64 percent to Sg$1.13.

— Mumbai gained 1.33 percent, or 363.30 points, to end at 27,687.30.

Dr. Reddys Laboratories rose 3.48 percent to 3,613.25 rupees, while Hero MotorCorp fell 0.31 percent to 2,520.60 rupees.

— Thai stocks finished flat, down just 0.12 percent, or 1.78 points, at 1,510.41

Supermarket giant Big C dropped 2.35 percent to 208 baht while KBank also dipped 0.96 percent to 206 baht.

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