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Market Update

Asian Markets Start Week Higher

Asian markets were up Monday with the Sensex leading gains for the region as it extended last week’s record and was trading in previously unchartered territory.

The Nikkei was up 0.3%. The Shanghai Composite traded flat while the Hang Seng was up 0.7%. The Sensex added 0.8% while the All Ordinaries was closed for a public holiday.

Over the weekend, Japan released data showing gross domestic product grew an annualized 6.7% in the first quarter, soundly beating estimates for a 5.6% increase. Also adding to the optimism over economic growth, current account data showed foreign visitors spent more money than Japanese traveling abroad for the first time in over 40 years.

China also released data over the weekend that showed a better-than-expected year-on-year gain of 7% in its exports but a 1.6% decline in imports.

Last week Friday, the U.S. markets closed at record highs after an upbeat jobs report that indicated an improvement in the economy, even as the unemployment rate held steady at 6.3%.

Stocks on the Move

Sony was up 0.9% while Panasonic added 2.7%. Canon was up half a percent while Olympus edged 0.2% lower. Toshiba gained 1.4% and Sharp Corp. ended flat.

NEC also gave up 0.6% while Fujitsu gained 0.6%. Konami was up a percent and Hitachi fell 1.5%.

On Friday, Soufun.com, China’s leading real estate website released data showing a fall in both land sales and total transaction values. Land sales fell 45% from a year ago in May in 300 Chinese cities, and 19% from April.

Several real estate shares fell. Poly Property Group was down 1.7% in Hong Kong while Shimao Property Holdings retreated 4.2%. Sunac China Holdings was down 1.5%. China Overseas Land was up 0.4%. Over on the mainland Poly Real Estate was also higher, up 4.1%, while China Vanke was flat.

The Sensex was in record territory in Mumbai ahead of the country’s budget to be presented by the new finance minister Arun Jaitley in the first week of July. Jaitley hinted at tough measures to control the fiscal deficit – a legacy of the previous Congress-led UPA government – as he said he would not be able to accommodate the social welfare schemes due to fiscal constraints. Such schemes have been criticized by most investors and economists alike as being election sops initiated by the Congress in an effort to win votes but which made a huge dent on the country’s economy.

Coal India was the top gainer, up 6.2%, followed by Bajaj Auto, up 5.2%. L&T gained 3.7% while Tata Power, Tata Motors, Gail India, and Tata Steel all added over 2% each.