Most Asia stocks pull higher ahead of Greek vote - Marketwatch Most Asia stocks pull higher ahead of Greek vote - Marketwatch

Friday, June 15, 2012

Most Asia stocks pull higher ahead of Greek vote - Marketwatch

Most Asia stocks pull higher ahead of Greek vote - Marketwatch

By V. Phani Kumar and Sarah Turner, MarketWatch

HONG KONG (MarketWatch) — Hong Kong stocks lead most Asian markets higher on Friday amid hopes that global central banks may join hands to coordinate a policy response after this weekend’s crucial election in Greece.

South Korean shares diverged, finishing lower as investors nervous about upcoming European events took profits, while Japanese stocks ended flat as exporters were hit by the yen’s gains after the Bank of Japan left its monetary policy stance unchanged.

“Markets are in wait-and-see mode ahead of Greek elections, with range-trading likely to dominate market action, albeit with a slightly risk-on bias,” said Mitul Kotecha, a strategist at Credit Agricole.

“It is not only the Fed that markets believe may act, with reports overnight suggesting that there may be some form of coordinated action by central banks should the Greek election outcome prove to be unfavorable,” he added, referring to a Reuters news report that central banks stood ready to provide liquidity, if needed, which boosted stocks on Wall Street. Read more on U.S. stocks.

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In Asia, the Hang Seng Index /quotes/zigman/2622475 HK:HSI +2.26%  jumped 2.3%, extending gains in late trading after European stock markets opened strongly, China’s Shanghai Composite index /quotes/zigman/1859015 CN:000001 +0.47%  climbed 0.5%, Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 index /quotes/zigman/1653884 AU:XJO +0.37%  rose 0.4% and Taiwan’s Taiex /quotes/zigman/1565586 XX:Y9999 +1.14%  climbed 1.1%.

Japan’s Nikkei Stock Average /quotes/zigman/5986735 JP:100000018 +0.0050%  ended little changed from the previous day’s close, while South Korea’s Kospi KR:SEU -0.71%  dropped 0.7%.

Most regional markets also finished the week on a positive note. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index again put in a strong performance, ending the week with a 4% gain, while the Taiex rose 2.2%.

Several financial stocks in the region rallied. Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc. /quotes/zigman/392753/quotes/nls/mtu MTU +1.38%   /quotes/zigman/267078 JP:8306 +1.71%  climbed 1.7% in Tokyo, Commonwealth Bank of Australia /quotes/zigman/181772/quotes/nls/cbauf CBAUF -0.99%   /quotes/zigman/181773 AU:CBA +0.63% advanced 0.6%, and KB Financial Group Inc. /quotes/zigman/525922/quotes/nls/kb KB +1.37%  added 1.2% in Seoul, while in Hong Kong, BOC Hong Kong Holdings Ltd. /quotes/zigman/24512 HK:2388 +4.95% /quotes/zigman/323191/quotes/nls/bhkly BHKLY +0.97%  jumped 5% and heavyweight HSBC Holdings PLC /quotes/zigman/207333/quotes/nls/hbc HBC +1.00%   /quotes/zigman/13834 HK:5 +2.38%  added 2.4%.

Performance in Tokyo was hit by the yen’s strength after the BOJ paused on interest rates and on further monetary easing, avoiding policy action ahead of the Greek elections.

A rally in commodity prices, aided by the dollar’s weakness, spurred several commodity stocks.

Shares of Cnooc Ltd. /quotes/zigman/274848/quotes/nls/ceo CEO -0.23%   /quotes/zigman/29647 HK:883 +3.83%  jumped 3.8% in Hong Kong, while PetroChina Co. /quotes/zigman/257868/quotes/nls/ptr PTR +0.67%   /quotes/zigman/21986 HK:857 +2.33%   /quotes/zigman/1876553 CN:601857 +0.33%  rose 2.3% in Hong Kong and 0.3% in Shanghai; Woodside Petroleum Ltd. /quotes/zigman/181325 AU:WPL +0.97%   /quotes/zigman/182283/quotes/nls/wopey WOPEY +1.47%  climbed 1% and Fortescue Metals Group Ltd. /quotes/zigman/329628 AU:FMG +1.92% /quotes/zigman/329626/quotes/nls/fsumf FSUMF -1.48% added 1.9% in Sydney; and Korea Zinc Co. rose 1.8% in Seoul.

Shares of Esprit Holdings Ltd. /quotes/zigman/38257 HK:330 +9.86%   /quotes/zigman/1473262/quotes/nls/esp ESP +0.76%  soared 9.9% in Hong Kong after two days of hefty losses on worries about senior executives leaving the compnay. But the rebound Friday came after its departing chief executive said his resignation didn’t indicate a crisis at the company. The shares are still down 19.7% this week. Read more on Esprit’s recent troubles.

Shares of Chinese dairy producers declined on news Inner Mongolia Yili Industrial Group Co. /quotes/zigman/1861010 CN:600887 -10.01%  has recalled some milk powder products, after a government inspection found “unusual” levels of mercury in them. Shares of the company tumbled by the day’s 10% limit in Shanghai, while China Mengniu Dairy Co. /quotes/zigman/30731 HK:2319 -3.18%  lost 3.2% in Hong Kong.

Among other notable movers, shares of department store operator Takashimaya Co. /quotes/zigman/198259 JP:8233 +0.54%   /quotes/zigman/198265/quotes/nls/tkshf TKSHF 0.00%  added 0.5% in Tokyo after the Nikkei newspaper reported that its operating profit for the March-to-May period jumped 40%.

In Seoul, SK Hynix Inc /quotes/zigman/9519698/quotes/nls/hxscl HXSCL 0.00%  fell 2.1% after Woori Bank reportedly sold its 1.4% stake in the firm for 220 billion Korean won ($189 million).

Samsung Electronics Co. /quotes/zigman/189458/quotes/nls/ssnlf SSNLF -0.30%  tumbled 3.5% after two of the company’s display panel units said that some of their flat panel manufacturing lines were briefly suspended on Thursday due to a power shortage, according to reports.


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