Bangkok: Markets were mixed on Wednesday, with Japan and a few other markets boosted by gains on Wall Street and growing optimism over prospects for the US economy.
Meanwhile, shares in China and Hong Kong fell on profit-taking and continued worries about this week’s record high oil prices.
In its first day of trade this week, Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 index rose 0.4% to 14,102.5. Japanese financial markets were closed on Monday and Tuesday on account of public holiday.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index fell 2.5% to 25,610.2. The Shanghai Composite Index fell 4.1% to 3,579.2.
Investors in Japan chased gains in auto maker and financial stocks amid more positive signs for the outlook of the world’s largest economy. But traders said market players remained cautious as oil prices hit a record near $123 (Rs5,067) a barrel on worries over supply disruptions.
“The bottom line is that the market is still in a cautious mood after a quick rebound and the 14,000-point level is a place to lock in profits for many,” said Mitsushige Akino, chief fund manager at Ichiyoshi Investment Management.
Despite the cautious mood, the Nikkei rose on the overnight gains on Wall Street and Friday’s better-than-expected US job-loss numbers. On Tuesday, the Dow Jones industrial average rose 0.4% to 13,020.83.
Among gainers in Japan, financial giant Mizuho Financial Group rose 2.8% and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group added 2.6%. Japan’s top brokerage firm Nomura Holdings Inc. rose 2.5%.
Shares in Toyota Motor Corp., the world’s second biggest auto maker by annual vehicle sales, increased 2.8%.
In Hong Kong, profit-taking weighed on blue chips and ratings downgrades and oil prices pulled down PetroChina Co. Ltd. Airlines listed in Hong Kong and Shanghai also continued their downtrend, anticipating higher jet fuel costs, which will eat their profit margin.
Only three of the Hang Seng’s 43 component stocks rose on Wednesday.
Elsewhere in Asia-Pacific, major benchmarks fell in Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and South Korea. However, the main indices rose in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Thailand.