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Market Update

Nikkei Leads Asia Up; Shanghai Slips

Asian markets bounced back into the positive territory Friday, a day after global growth concerns weighed on sentiment leading to sharp declines.

Japan’s Nikkei, which closed 2.1% lower in the previous session, jumped 2.9% supported by a weaker yen.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng and India’s Sensex gained 0.8% each while Australia's All Ordinaries added 0.5%

The Shanghai Composite , however, bucked the trend and fell 1.2%.

Investors took cues from Wall Street, where stocks ended higher despite some mixed economic data. The S&P 500 index finished near its all-time high, lending support to investor confidence in the Asian region.

In economic news, minutes of the Bank of Japan's Jan 21-22 policy meeting revealed several of the bank's board members said aggressive monetary easing need not be ended strictly in two years from April 2013.

Stocks on the Move

Japanese exporters scored high on the back of a softer yen -- Konami Corp. surged 4.8%, Panasonic rose 3.9%, Advantest Corp. advanced gained 3.6% while Mazda Motor accelerated nearly 3%.

Financials, utilities, retailers and resources stocks added to the gains.

In Hong Kong, insurance companies were in focus after leading insurer AIA Group Ltd. reported full-year results. Shares of the company were down 0.2% after it posted lower net profit in spite of a record 25% jump in new business value.

Others in the sector were little changed -- Ping An Insurance slipped 0.3% and China Life Insurance ended flat.

Some globally exposed firms and telecom companies were on the rise -- Espirt Holdings enhanced 0.7% while Belle International Holdings moved up 2.9%.

Tencent Holdings was up 2.8% following Facebook Inc.'s acquisition of WhatsApp; which raised optimism of a similar buyout of the company's mobile messenger software WeChat.

China Mobile added 1.2% after the company recorded growth of more than 14 billion in number of its 3G subscribers in January following the launch of iPhone.

China Unicom and China Telecom, added around 1% and 0.3% respectively.

In Sydney, financials were eyed after earnings announcement. National Australia Bank dropped 1.5% despite posting a 11% hike in first quarter profits.

Close rival ANZ was up 0.1% while Westpac Banking added 0.6%.

Insurance Australia Group edged up 0.5% after logging a 39% rise in half-year profit. Among others in the sector, QBE Insurance was up 2.1% and Suncorp Group added 0.5%.

Mumbai-listed equities found their way up, tracking firm sentiment overseas. Banks and capital goods were among the leaders.

Axis Bank rose 2.9%, L&T gained 1.9% while ITC and Tata Steel climbed 1.8%. ICICI Bank and SBI improved around 1.5% each.