Asian markets rise most in five weeks, paced by bank stocks

Asian markets rise most in five weeks, paced by bank stocks
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First Published: Wed, Mar 26 2008. 01 10 AM IST
Updated: Wed, Mar 26 2008. 08 28 AM IST
Singapore/Shanghai: Asian stocks gained the most in five weeks, led by banks, after JPMorgan Chase and Co. raised its bid for Bear Stearns Companies Inc.
Macquarie Group Ltd, Australia’s biggest securities firm, led advances in Sydney and HSBC Holdings Plc. climbed in Hong Kong, driving both markets higher after a four-day break.
Westfield Group of Australia rose after US home sales unexpectedly gained. China Netcom Group Corp. advanced after reporting an unexpected increase in full-year profit.
“By seeing more value in Bear Stearns and paying more for it, the same could be said for the value of financials in this region,” said Hans Kunnen, Sydney-based head of investment market research at Colonial First State Global Management, which oversees $128 billion (Rs5.13 trillion) of assets. “I won’t say overall sentiment has turned, but that the market is buoyed by bits of positive news.”
Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average climbed 2.1% to 12,745.22. The S&P ASX 200 Index surged 3.7% in Australia, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index added 6.4%. Both markets were closed for Easter holidays, during which the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index rallied 4% in the US.
Benchmarks advanced in other markets open for trading, except for Taiwan’s TWSE Index, which failed to continue Monday’s 4% gain that was inspired by Ma Ying-jeou’s presidential election victory.
Leighton Holdings Ltd, Australia’s largest engineering and construction company, rose the most in two months after winning a pipeline order.
Nippon Electric Glass Co. jumped after forecasting higher sales.
Macquarie rose 12%, its highest close since 28 February. HSBC, Europe’s leading bank by market value, climbed 5.2% in Hong Kong, the biggest advance in two months. Kookmin Bank, South Korea’s largest, increased 3.8%.
The cost of protecting bonds in the Asia-Pacific from default also fell on Tuesday as concerns eased that an economic slowdown in the US, Asia’s biggest export destination, will crimp company profits.
JPMorgan raised its offer for Bear Stearns to about $10 a share from $2.52 and struck a deal to buy a 39.5% stake.
Commonwealth Bank of Australia, the nation’s biggest provider of home loans, surged 8%. St. George Bank Ltd, Australia’s fifth largest bank, rose 6.5%.
Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Ltd, the world’s leading lender by market value, jumped 8.6% in Hong Kong ahead of its earnings.
Sales of existing homes in the US unexpectedly rose in February, easing concern that credit restrictions and falling prices would hurt demand. Purchases grew 2.9%, the National Association of Realtors said. Economists in a survey had forecast a decline of 0.8%.
“Solid profit can provide a little bit of comfort,” said Renee Hung, who helps manage $6 billion at Value Partners Ltd in Hong Kong. “Looking forward, earnings growth in China in the coming 12 months should generally be OK.”
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First Published: Wed, Mar 26 2008. 01 10 AM IST