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Market Update

Asian Markets Bounce Back; Shanghai Lags

Asian markets finished mostly higher Thursday, bouncing back from yesterday's steep declines on heels of overnight Wall Street gains.

At close, the Nikkei was up 0.9% after pushing in and out of the positive terrain several times earlier in the day; the Hang Seng added 0.8% while the Sensex rallied 2.3%. Australia's S&P/ASX All Ordinaries also pared losses and ended marginally up, 0.1%.

China's Shanghai Composite, too, moved off lows but still ended below the flatline, down 0.2%.

Asian markets opened with gains, taking cues from Wall Street, where stocks ended in the positive terrain on Wednesday after disappointing housing data and ongoing Syrian conflict caused investors to believe the Federal Reserve would postpone its plans to taper monetary stimulus measures.

In commodities, both oil futures and gold moved off highs as the safe-haven dollar gained ground against some of its major counterparts even as the U.S. and its allies continued to mull options of military action against the Syrian government.

The Indian rupee, meanwhile, also reversed its slide, opening sharply higher against the dollar after the central bank said would provide dollars directly to state oil companies through a separate forex window in a bid to bail out the sinking currency. The rupee had crashed to a fresh record low of 68.85 yesterday.

Stocks on the Move

Most oil firms in the region traded higher as the recent uptick in crude prices prompted investors to stack more of these stocks.

In Tokyo, Inpex Corp. soared over 5% and Japan Petroleum rose 4.7%. Hong Kong listed PetroChina was up a modest 2% but CNOOC slipped 0.5%.

In Mumbai, ONGC edged up 0.7% while Indian Oil Corp. and Oil India gained 0.7% and 1.7% respectively. Among other robust gainers on the Sensex, Sesa Goa rallied 12.1%, HDFC gained 5.7%, Hindalco Industries gained 5.2%, Dr. Reddys Lab enhanced 3.8% and Bharti Airlte added 3.8%.

Australian oil and gas explorer Beach Energy enhanced over 3% while Drillsearch Energy bounced 3%.

But Tokyo-listed power utilities slumped on higher crude oil prices. Kansai Electric Power plunged 5.6% while Tokyo Electric Power dropped 2.6%.

Also on the downside, Panasonic Corp. lost around 2% after the electronics manufacturer said it would exit the consumer smartphone market.

On the other side, Kyocera Corp. jumped 2.5% after announcing plans to conduct a 2-for-1 stock split as the company seeks to attract a broader range of investors.

Among other stocks in news, Qantas Airways soared 13.8% amid reports that Northrop Grumman Corp. would buy the defense unit of the Australian flag carrier.

Meanwhile, engineering and construction services provider Clough Ltd. edged up 0.4% after South Africa's Murray & Roberts Holdings Ltd. won support of the company's independent directors for a buyout offer.

On the earnings front, Westfield Group reported a 36% drop in first half net profit. Shares of the Australian owner of shopping malls lost 0.7%.