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Market at 1-year low in China; Japan, Hong Kong gain

Market at 1-year low in China; Japan, Hong Kong gain
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First Published: Tue, Apr 01 2008. 11 56 PM IST
Updated: Tue, Apr 01 2008. 11 56 PM IST
Bangkok: Asian markets were mixed on Tuesday as investors in Japan brushed off a dismal business sentiment survey to buy stocks on the first day of the new fiscal year.
Hong Kong’s market also rose, but stocks in mainland China plunged, sending the benchmark Shanghai Composite Index to its lowest point in nearly a year on worries about further monetary tightening.
In Tokyo, the benchmark Nikkei 225 stock index rose 130.88 points, or 1.04%, to 12,656.42. New fund flows at the start of the fiscal year led investors to buy large caps in electronics and financial shares.
Traders didn’t seem to react much to the Bank of Japan’s quarterly “tankan” survey, which showed that the key sentiment index for large manufacturers fell to 11 in March from 19 in December. The headline index for large non-manufacturers fell to 12 in March from 16 in December.
Domestically oriented shares such as insurance and financial stocks were higher, as they may be less vulnerable to any decline in the dollar against the yen if the manufacturing business index by the Institute for Supply Management in the US later in the day disappoints the market.Millea Holdings Inc. rose 4.1%, while T and D Holdings Inc. gained 1.3%.
Elpida Memory Inc. extended its gains from the previous day, jumping 8.1% after saying it aims to increase the price of its DRAM chips by 20% in contract negotiations with computer makers.
Hong Kong stocks gained as better-than-expected earnings of major companies helped the territory overcome the drag from further steep losses on mainland China’s bourses.
“I don’t think it’s a nice idea to get into the market for now as sentiment in China remains weak,” said Linus Yip, a strategist with First Shanghai Securities Ltd.
The blue chip Hang Seng Index rose 288.26 points, or 1.3%, to 23,137.46.
Meanwhile, the benchmark Shanghai Composite Index fell 4.1% to 3,329.16—its lowest closing level since 6 April 2007. The Shenzhen Composite Index fell 7.3%.
Hong Kong’s three biggest capitalized firms rose on Tuesday, withHSBC Holdings Plc. adding 1.7%, China Mobile Ltd gaining 1.6% and PetroChina Co. climbing 1.2%.
Investor sentiment was overwhelmingly gloomy on mainland Chinese bourses amid expectations that authorities will raise interest rates to combat inflation, analysts said.
Market heavyweight PetroChina fell 2.62% to 16.83 yuan (Rs96), close to its initial public offering price last October of 16.70 yuan.
Auto makers and real estate developers, sectors most vulnerable to economic slowdowns, fell sharply. SAIC Motor Corp. tumbled 8.1%, whileFAW Car Co. hit the 10% daily downside limit. Developer China Vanke Co. Ltd fell 4.3%, while Poly Real Estate Group shed 9.9%.
Elsewhere in Asia Pacific, Australia’s benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index inched up 0.1% to 5,361.2 and Thailand’s key index rose 0.8% to 823.36.
But Taiwan’s main index fell 1.8% to 8,419.72 and Indonesia’s market sank 2.2% to 2,393.249.
In currencies, the dollar slipped to 99.95 yen in Tokyo mid-afternoon trading, down from 100.00 yen in late Monday in New York. The euro fell to $1.5668, from $1.5785.
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First Published: Tue, Apr 01 2008. 11 56 PM IST
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