Chen Shiyin and Makiko Suzuki, Bloomberg
Kuala Lumpur/Tokyo: Asian stocks rose to the highest in more than three weeks. Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc. led gains among Japanese banks after the country’s land prices rose for the first time in 16 years.
“The land-price report raised expectations that Japan’s economy, including areas outside Tokyo, will have solid growth,” said Naoki Fujiwara, who oversees the equivalent of $720 million (Rs3,137 crore) at Shinkin Asset Management Co. in Tokyo.
PetroChina Co. advanced after crude oil prices neared $62 a barrel. Technology shares fell after Palm Inc. reported a drop in quarterly profit and a newspaper said Benq Corp. may face claims stemming from its bankrupt German mobile-phone unit.
The Morgan Stanley Capital International Asia-Pacific Index climbed 0.4% to 146.17 at 7:41 pm in Tokyo, set for its highest since 27 February. The gauge has risen 3.5% in the past five days, the most since the week ended 18 August. It’s the first weekly gain in four, since a sell-off that began on 27 February wiped out about $3.3 trillion of share values worldwide.
Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average added 0.4% to 17,480.61. The index rose 4.4% this week, its best weekly gain since January 2006. Sony Corp. advanced after its shares were rated “overweight” in new coverage at Prudential Equity Group LLC.
China’s Shanghai and Shenzhen 300 Index rose to a record for the second straight day, having recovered all the losses since its 9.2% plunge on 27 February sparked the global equities rout. Markets in the region gained in Taiwan, China, Malaysia, Thailand, India and Sri Lanka. Hong Kong closed little changed.
Japan’s Land Prices
Shares of Japanese companies that rely on domestic growth advanced. Mitsubishi UFJ, Japan’s biggest bank, gained 1.5% to 1.37 million yen. Mizuho Financial Group Inc., the second-biggest lender by assets, advanced 1.3% to 782,000 yen. Central Japan Railway Co., the No. 2 train operator, jumped 2.9% to 1.44 million yen.
Property prices rose nationwide an average 0.4% in the year ending 31 December, Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport said in report released after markets closed yesterday. Commercial land prices climbed 2.3% and residential prices gained 0.1%.
“The report became a trigger for buying domestic demand- related shares as it raises expectations the nation’s economy will expand further,” Tsuyoshi Shimizu, who helps oversee $16 billion at Dai-Ichi Kangyo Asset Management Co. in Tokyo.
PetroChina, China’s largest oil producer, climbed 1.4% to HK$8.78 in Hong Kong. Woodside Petroleum Ltd, Australia’s No. 2 oil producer, added 0.9% to A$36.96. Inpex Holdings Inc., Japan’s largest oil explorer, rose 1% to 948,000 yen.
Technology stocks were among the biggest drags on MSCI’s Asia-Pacific index today. Palm, the maker of the Treo mobile phone and e-mail device, yesterday said third-quarter profit dropped 61% because of advertising and development spending to stem the loss of customers to Research In Motion Ltd’s BlackBerry.
Palm’s earnings added to disappointing forecasts from Motorola Inc. a day earlier. The company, the world’s second- biggest maker of mobile phones, said profit and sales will be “substantially” below its forecast this year because of plunging mobile-phone prices. Its shares tumbled 6.6%.
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., the world’s largest maker of customized chips, lost 0.3% to NT$70. Jurong Technologies Industrial Corp., which counts Motorola among its customers, slid 3.8% to 76.5 Singapore cents.
Samsung Electronics Co., South Korea’s largest electronics maker, fell 0.3% to 58,000 won. Deustche Bank AG cut its estimate for this year’s earnings-per-share by 10%, citing price declines for dynamic random access memory, or DRAM, chips.
“The drop in Motorola shares increased investors’ concerns that profit growth at electronics parts makers will slow,” said Shimizu at Dai-Ichi Kangyo Asset Management.
Benq, Taiwan’s biggest maker of branded consumer electronics, slumped 3.9% to NT$12.50, a 10-year low. The company may face 500 million euros ($667 million) in claims from its German unit, which is being liquidated, according to the Taiwan Economic Daily News.
Martin Prager, the German unit’s insolvency administrator, will file the claim soon to the Taiwanese parent, the report said. Benq has not received any claims so far, Jean Hsu, a company spokeswoman in Taipei, said today.
The company reported a record annual loss earlier this week after its 2005 purchase of Siemens AG’s mobile-phone unit failed to raise profit or sales.
Sony, the world’s biggest maker of game consoles, rose 0.8% to 6,230 yen. Prudential rated the stock “overweight” on improving margins. The brokerage also gave Sony’s American depositary shares a price target of $62, which is 17% higher than yesterday’s closing level. Sony is releasing its PlayStation 3 console in Europe today.
Qantas, Australia’s largest airline, slid 3.1% to HK$5.06. Balanced Equity Management, a fund which holds about 4% of the airline’s stock, said it won’t accept the buyout group’s A$5.45 per share offer. Macquarie and its partners need approval from holders of 90 percent of the airline’s shares for their bid to succeed.
Balanced Equity and UBS Global Asset Management together control more than 10% of Qantas’s shares, giving them a big enough stake to block the takeover. UBS’s Paul Fiani, who wasn’t immediately available to comment today, wants a higher offer, the Australian Financial Review has reported.