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Market Update

Asia Up After Wall Street Rally, China Data

Asian markets extended gains Wednesday after a record-breaking performance by U.S. equities the previous day, and upbeat Chinese trade data inspired investors to take on riskier assets.

At close, Japan's Nikkei was up 0.7%, the Shanghai Composite climbed 0.5% while the Hang Seng gained 0.9%. Mumbai's Sensex ended 0.5% higher while Australia's S&P/ASX All Ordinaries rose 1.1%.

Looking at Wall Street's performance, U.S. stocks hit a fresh record overnight as the Dow Jones Industrial Average finished above the 15,000 level for the first time ever on the back of strong overseas cues. The Nasdaq Composite, meanwhile, also logged its highest finish since November 2000 while the S&P 500 index ended at another record high on Tuesday.

Back home, some positive data points from China added to the confidence. Chinese export and import growth accelerated in April with exports rising a better-than-expected 14.7% from a year ago and imports improving a more-than-estimated 16.8% from a year earlier -- leaving China with a surplus of $18.2 billion as of April as against a slight deficit recorded in the previous month.

Stocks on the move
Tokyo-listed exporters continued their up-climb with signs of economic recovery in two of the country's largest export markets -- U.S. and China.

Sharp Corp. finished 6% higher after bouncing to a 10-month high amid reports the company would produce screens for the new model of Apple Inc.'s iPhone 5.

Softbank Corp. rose around 3% after reports said the company's president would meet major shareholders of Sprint Nextel Corp. in a bid to garner support for the company's proposed takeover of the U.S. wireless service provider.

Among other movers, Tokyo Electron Ltd. vaulted around 7%, Sumco Corp. gained 4.1% while Sony Corp. improved 2.1%.

But Toshiba Corp. tumbled over 5% after a Nikkei report said the company would miss its operating profit forecast for the fiscal year ended March.

In Hong Kong, index heavyweight HSBC Holdings rose 1.7% after reporting strong quarterly earnings. Other financials were also in the green. ICBC added 0.9%, Agricultural Bank improved 1.1% while Bank of Communications was up 0.7%.

Among other gainers, PetroChina Co. rose nearly 3%, China Petroleum & Chemical Corp. enhanced 2.1% while CNOOC added 1.4%.

Metal players also supported with modest gains. Angang Steel picked up 3.9% while Aluminum Corp. of China tacked on 0.7%.

On the flipside, however, fashion clothing retailer Esprit Holdings plunged 5% after it warned of significant losses in the second-half on account of escalating costs related to store closures and acquistions in China.

In Mumbai, stocks moved upwards, tracking positive cues from global markets. HDFC was the top gainer, up 3.9% after the mortgage giant reported 17.2% rise in consolidated net profit for the fourth quarter.

Other gainers on the 30-share benchmark index included defensive stocks like drug makers and FMCG goods and IT firms.

ITC improved 2.3%, Hindustan Unilever added 1.2%, TCS climbed 0.5% while Dr. Reddys Lab edged up 0.3%.

In Sydney, miners played strong after China (the country’s top export market) reported positive trade figures. Top miner BHP Billiton was up 1.9% while Rio Tinto added 2.6%. Diversified miner Fortescue Metals Group bounced over 5%.

Banking issues pared losses in the previous session after the central bank surprised investors with a rate cut yesterday. NAB improved 1.3% while ANZ gained close to 2%. Westpac Banking Corp. finished 1.1% higher too.