HONG KONG: Asian markets were mixed Monday in thin trading during the Lunar New Year holiday, but Japanese stocks rose to their highest in nearly seven years on reports of a possible merger that would create the country’s biggest department store chain.
Markets in mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, South Korea and Malaysia were closed for the holiday, the biggest celebration of the year for ethnic Chinese.
Japanese stocks rose after media reports over the weekend said Daimaru Inc. might merge with the department store unit of Matsuzakaya Holdings Co.
Although both companies said nothing had been decided, the benchmark Nikkei 225 index advanced 64.44 points, or 0.36 %, to finish at 17,940.09 on the Tokyo Stock Exchange its highest close since 8 May 2000.
Matsuzakaya jumped 10.28 %, while Daimaru soared 8.63 %.
Other gainers included Sumitomo Metal Industries Ltd., which added 3.28 %, and Makino Millings Machine Co., which rose 4.25 %.
Australian stocks rose 0.6 % to hit a record high Monday on strength across the board as the corporate earnings season yielded mostly better-than-expected reports.
The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index closed up 36.4 points at 5,990.1 on light volume. It hit a record intraday high of 6,003.2 points.
Dealers were surprised by the strength in the market in the face of holidays in several Asian markets and a tightening in Chinese bank lending restrictions last week.
“It’s a pretty positive sign,” said Patrick Crabb, institutional sales trader at Goldman Sachs JBWere.
Financial shares lead the charge with ANZ Bank up 2 % and QBE Insurance up 1.3 %. Energy stocks and industrials were also strong with Energy Resources up 4.6 % and Brambles up 2.9 %.
In currencies, the U.S. dollar was trading at 119.46 yen at 4:50 p.m. (0750 GMT) Monday, up from 119.33 yen late Friday in New York. The euro rose to US$1.3151 from US$1.3134.
Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia will reopen Wednesday, while markets on mainland China and Taiwan will start trading again next Monday. South Korea’s stock market will reopen Tuesday.
BANGKOK: Thai shares dropped 0.4 % to 685.38 in extremely thin trade as intensifying hostilities in southern Thailand prompted profit-taking in key blue chips.
JAKARTA: Indonesia shares rose 4.930 points, or 0.3 %, at 1799.293 in relative thin Lunar New Year holiday trading.
MANILA: Philippine shares slid as investors took profits in Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. and Globe Telecom Inc. following recent gains. The 30-company Philippine Stock Exchange Index dropped 4.53 points, or 0.1 %, at 3,329.03.
MUMBAI: Indian shares ended higher, but off intraday highs as investors booked profits in select auto shares and Hindustan Lever. The Bombay Stock Exchange’s 30-stock Sensitive Index, or Sensex, closed up 0.3 %, or 47.35 points, at 14402.90. On the rival National Stock Exchange, the 50-stock S&P CNX Nifty gained 18.35 points, or 0.4 %, to close at 4164.55.
WELLINGTON: New Zealand stocks slipped sharply lower and look set for a further correction in coming sessions as market valuations look stretched against the backdrop of a lackluster first half reporting season to date. The benchmark NZX-50 was down 39.67 points, or 1 %, at 4,140.22.