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Asia stocks up as investors look to G-20 summit

Source : AP
Last Updated: Fri, Apr 19, 2013 05:15 hrs

Asian stock markets posted modest gains Friday, ignoring a raft of disappointing U.S. corporate earnings as officials from the world's biggest economies meet in Washington to search for ways to remedy sluggish global growth.

Group of 20 officials were to wrap up discussions later in the day and issue a statement that is expected to touch on the need for countries to take steps to encourage economic growth while avoiding measures that might spark a currency war.

The G-20 is composed of the world's major developed countries such as the United States, Japan and Germany and fast-growing developing nations including China, Brazil and India.

Analysts at Credit Agricole CIB in Hong Kong said market sentiment was hurt by the release of some disappointing U.S. economic news. More people applied for unemployment benefits last week and manufacturing slowed in the mid-Atlantic region.

Those reports followed several recent signs of weakness in the economy, including a sharp slowdown in hiring last month and poor retail sales.

"Looking forward ... the focus will likely be any G20 statements on currency manipulation," the bank said in a commentary.

There have been increasing concerns around the world that countries might manipulate their exchange rates through their domestic economic policies in order to gain an edge in trade. The process could spark a "currency war" — where countries compete against one another to get the lowest exchange rates. Japan has been at the center of concerns recently as the yen weakens due to the central bank's aggressive monetary easing.

Japan's Nikkei 225 index rose 0.5 percent to 13,285.04. South Korea's Kospi added 0.3 percent to 1,905.06. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 was nearly unchanged at 4,925.10. Benchmarks in Taiwan, Indonesia, Thailand and mainland China also advanced.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 1 percent to 21,736.10, with investors shopping for bargains after a five-session sell-off shaved nearly 600 points from the index. Chinese PC maker Lenovo Group jumped 5.7 percent. Hong Kong-listed banks also took off. Industrial & Commercial Bank of China, the world's biggest bank by market value, rose 3 percent. Bank of China advanced 2.9 percent.

"The banks fell quite a bit recently because of rumors that the banking commissioner was going to take a hard look at lending, so it is just bottom-fishing" for stocks at good prices, said Francis Lun, chief economist at GE Oriental Financial Group in Hong Kong.

Disappointing earnings from Morgan Stanley, UnitedHealth Group and eBay pushed Wall Street stocks lower. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 0.6 percent to close at 14,537.14. The Standard & Poor's 500 index lost 0.7 percent to 1,541.61. The Nasdaq composite fell 1.2 percent, to 3,166.36.

Benchmark oil for May delivery was up 25 cents to $87.98 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose $1.05, or 1.2 percent, to finish at $87.73 a barrel on the Nymex on Thursday.

In currencies, the euro rose to $1.3067 from $1.3048 late Thursday in New York. The dollar rose to 98.48 from 98.12 yen.

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Follow Pamela Sampson on Twitter at http://twitter.com/pamelasampson




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