Hong Kong: Asian shares closed mixed on Tuesday as investors struggled for direction, but Indian and Malaysian stocks continued a good recent run to hit record highs on the same day.
The Indian stock market rose 0.29% to a record close on optimism about corporate earnings.
The benchmark 30-share Bombay Stock Exchange’s sensitive index, the Sensex, rose 60.68 points to 20,873.33, beating the previous record close of 20,812.65 on Monday.
Malaysian stock market jumped 1.3% to an all-time high amid speculation that the country may soon hold general elections.
Elsewhere, investors recovered some poise after wobbling earlier in the week over fears of a US economic recession, but such concerns continued to cast a long shadow over Asia. Japanese share prices edged up 0.19% and Taiwan was up 1.01%. But the region’s other key markets ended down, including a 0.5% fall in Australia.
The US has been hit by a mortgage default crisis in the subprime sector comprising riskier borrowers. The crisis has led to billions of dollars in losses, a credit crunch and a housing market downturn.
Analysts fear that the US, a key buyer of Asian exports, is heading for a recession. Japanese share prices rose for the first session in five after the market slumped to an 18-month low on jitters about the health of the US economy, dealers said. They said shares had looked more attractive after a 5% slump since the start of the year. The Tokyo Stock Exchange’s benchmark Nikkei-225 index rose 28.12 points, or 0.19%, to 14,528.67.
The broader Topix index of all first-section shares added 10.35 points, or 0.74% to 1,403.06. Investors remained concerned about the health of the US economy, said Yumi Nishimura, manager for equity marketing at Daiwa Securities SMBC Co. Ltd.
“But there was support as some investors continued to snap up bargains from defensive sectors such as construction and food,” she said.
It was too early to say that stocks have hit a bottom yet though, analysts warned.
Mitsui OSK Lines rose 3.8% to 1,332 and East Japan Railway Co. gained 4.8% to 940,000. Mizuho Financial Group rose 5.2% to 529,000, and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group climbed 6.7% to 845,000.
Aeon Co. Ltd was 0.1% higher at 1,529 after the Japanese retailer’s operating profit fell 24% in the March-November period. Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. Ltd was down 1.1% at 2,165, after it announced a project with Google Inc. and YouTube Llc.
Meanwhile, Hong Kong share prices closed down 0.25% on Tuesday, dealers said. The Hang Seng index closed down 66.59 points at 27,112.9. Turnover was HK$114.87 billion (Rs57,889 crore).
“The market did not have very clear direction, with investors just trading for the short term,” said Tony Tong of China Everbright Securities.
Cathay Pacific Ltd was up after shareholders in China Eastern Airlines Co. Ltd rejected the mainland carrier’s proposed stake sale to Singapore Airlines and Temasek Holdings Pte Ltd.
Cathay said it would consider joining Air China Ltd and its parent China National Aviation Corp. for a potential strategic partnership with China Eastern.
Cathay was up HK$0.25 at HK$20.25 and Air China was down HK$0.32 at HK$10.20. The Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corp. (HSBC) was up HK$0.50 at HK$128.30.
Australian share prices closed down 0.5%, dragged lower by concerns about the health of the US economy, dealers said.
The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index fell 33.5 points to 6,128.1 and the broader All Ordinaries index slipped 34.7 points to end the day at 6.205.7.
Turnover was 1.83 billion shares worth $4.15 billion (Rs16,310 crore).
Traders said investors were concerned over US economic growth and by falling commodity prices, with the Australian share market down 10% since a 1 November high.
“Those factors, particularly after a fall like we saw yesterday, are quite likely to make the market hesitant,” said CMC Markets UK Plc. analyst David Land.
The S&P/ASX 200 dropped more than 2% on Monday.
BHP Billiton Ltd shed 2.65% to close at HK39.00. Rio Tinto lost 1.3% to end the day at HK$127.50.
Chinese share prices closed down 0.13% amid profit-taking, dealers said.
The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index, which covers both A and B shares, closed down 6.81 points at 5,386.53 on a turnover of 184.6 billion yuan (Rs99,429 crore).
“The market opened higher because two financial companies projected strong earnings growth for 2007, and some investors took the rise as an opportunity to sell,” said Hu Yu, an analyst at China Lion Securities Co.
The Shanghai A-share Index fell 0.12% to 5,653.26. The Shenzhen A-share Index was down 1.50% at 1,583.2.
China Merchants Bank rose 3.17% at 40.31 yuan after projecting a 110% rise in its 2007 net profit. Citic Securities Co. Ltd rose 2.6% to 92.88 yuan after projecting a net profit growth of more than 400%.
Air China fell 0.63 yuan to 28.26 yaun after Singapore Airlines’ proposal to take a stake in rival China Eastern failed.
The Shanghai B-share Index fell 1.44% at 366.27. The Shenzhen B-share Index rose 0.19% to 722.48.
Taiwan share prices closed up 1.01% after a more than 4% plunge during the previous session, dealers said.
The weighted index closed up 79.54 points at 7,962.91 on turnover of 130.88 billion Taiwan dollars (Rs15,838 crore).
Samson Chueh of Yuanta Core Pacific Capital Management said hopes for eased rules regarding investments in China had helped financial stocks, adding investors were generally cautious ahead of Saturday’s parliamentary elections.
Fubon Financial Holding Co. Ltd closed at its limit—up Taiwan $2 or 7% on talk it would benefit from the eased rules.
United Microelectronics Corp. lost Taiwan $0.35 to Taiwan $17.90, ahead of the release of its December sales data.
The chip maker announced after the market closed that its parent-level sales fell to Taiwan $8.46 billion in December, from Taiwan $9.03 billion in November, but were up 1.1% over the year-earlier period.
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. added Taiwan $0.20 to Taiwan $56.00.
South Korean shares closed 0.3% lower as concerns about a US recession depressed the market, dealers said.
The KOSPI index finished down 4.91 points at 1,826.23. Volume was 290 million shares worth 5.3 trillion won (Rs22,165 crore).
“Wall Street managed to put the brakes on its recent steep correction, but that fell short of soothing investors’ persistent worries about the US economy,” said Korea Investment and Securities Co. Ltd analyst Kang Moon-Sung.
Pohang Iron and Steel Co. (Posco) dropped 6,000 won to 540,000. Kookmin Bank was down 1,000 at 63,700. Daewoo Securities Co. Ltd tumbled 3,900 to 27,600.
Singapore share prices closed 0.44% lower as investors locked in profits, dealers said.
The Straits Times Index fell 14.79 points to 3,338.27 on volume of 1.88 billion shares worth Singapore $1.94 billion (Rs5,306 crore).
“The signals so far are not clear and investors are treading cautiously,” said Carmen Lee, research head at OCBC Securities Pte Ltd.
Malaysian shares closed 1.3% higher at a fresh record amid mounting speculation that general elections could be held soon, dealers said.
The Kuala Lumpur Composite Index (KLCI) closed up 18.97 points at 1,489.74.
Expectations are high that Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi will call snap elections soon and this may have also contributed to the current upbeat mood on the market, Soo said.
Citigroup Inc. analyst Choong Wai Kee said a level of 1,500 points for the index this quarter could not be ruled out.
Thai share prices closed 0.42% higher as energy and banking stocks rose, but buying was curbed by political uncertainty over the formation of a new government, dealers said.
The Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET) composite index rose 3.38 points to 811.69, while the blue-chip SET-50 index added 3.45 points to 589.82.
“The market rebounded like other regional markets following a rise on Wall Street, but it was mainly technical rebound,” said Mayuree Chowvikran, vice-president of Siam City Securities Co. Ltd.
Allies of deposed premier Thaksin Shinawatra emerged from the polls just shy of a majority in parliament, but the military-appointed election commission has opened dozens of vote fraud investigations that threaten their ability to form a new government.
Indonesian share prices closed up 0.3% led by palm oil plantation stocks, dealers said.
The central bank’s expected decision to keep interest rates unchanged did not have a big impact on the market.
The Jakarta composite index closed up 9.22 points at 2,785.63. “Overall there was lack of fresh strong leads to drive our market higher today,” Mega Capital Llc. analyst Debby Handojo said.
Philippine share prices closed 0.9% higher as investors sought bargains after a five-day slide, dealers said.