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Market Update

Nikkei Ends Year on a High in Quiet Asia

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The Nikkei ended higher on its last trading day of the year, rounding off its best annual performance since 1972 even as trading volumes throughout the region remained thin ahead of the New Year holiday.

The Nikkei ended 0.7% higher. The Shanghai Composite was down 0.2% while the Hang Seng ended flat. The Sensex slipped 0.3% while the All Ordinaries was up 0.6%.

The Nikkei is up 56% for the year, marking its best performance in forty years, and also the top performer among Asian markets in 2013.

On Tuesday, the Hong Kong, Singapore, and Australian markets will trade for just half the day before breaking for the New Year in a holiday-shortened week.

Stocks on the Move

Auto stocks gained in Japan on news reports that production may rise next year as companies expect an increase in sales before a sales tax hike in April. Toyota was up half a percent while Honda gained 0.7%.

Maruha Nichiro fell 2.7% after a media report that one of the company's units was recalling millions of food items after it the detection of the pesticide malathion.

Index heavyweight Sony was up 2.3% after a report it would cancel the planned sale of its battery operations.

Cathay Pacific Airways gained 1.1% after the airline said last week Friday it had ordered four more airplanes from Boeing valued at about $1 billion at current list prices.

On the mainland, the benchmark Shanghai Composite was weighed by a report that the government will “severely deal with” companies that perform poorly in 2014. Bank of Communications was down 2.3%.

Infosys and Baja Auto were the top losers on the Sensex, down 1.7% each, respectively, followed by M&M, down 1.6%, L&T, down 1.2%, and ICICI Bank, Cipla, and Sun Pharma, all down 1.1% each.

In Sydney, BHP Billiton gained 1.3% while Rio Tinto was up a percent as copper prices remained near four-month highs. Fortescue Metals was up 1.9%.

Rouhan Sharma does not own (actual or beneficial) shares in any of the securities mentioned above. Find out about Morningstar’s editorial policies.