Asian shares rise slightly as Nikkei turns higher

Asian shares rise slightly as Nikkei turns higher

Tokyo: Most Asian shares rose slightly on Tuesday, with markets stuck in a tight range ahead of the reopening of US financial markets.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 stock average added 0.2% to 10,521.27 after opening the session lower.

Automakers including Toyota Motor Corp. and Nissan Motor Co. advanced. Elpida Memory Inc., Japan’s biggest semiconductor maker, jumped 2.6% after the Nikkei financial daily reported that the company plans to raise prices of DRAM chips used in personal computers.

Elsewhere, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index rose 0.6% to 24,297.82, and South Korea’s Kospi advanced 0.1% to 2,102.24. A solid showing by banking shares sent Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 up 0.3% to 4,774.90.

Benchmarks in Taiwan and Singapore also advanced, while shares in New Zealand and mainland China fell slightly.

Notable individual gainers included Aluminum Corp. of China Ltd., which surged more than 7% in Hong Kong. The company said in a statement Monday that it expects to return to profits this year.

Investors across the region were waiting to see how Wall Street reacts to Apple Inc.’s announcement that CEO Steve Jobs would be taking a medical leave of absence. US financial markets were closed Monday for a holiday.

The news is expected to hammer the company’s shares and overall sentiment when trading opens for the week. The company made the announcement a day before its quarterly earnings report.

In Europe Monday, investors reacted sharply. Apple shares closed in Frankfurt a staggering 6.6% lower at €243 ($323.02).

In currencies, the dollar fell to ¥82.63 from ¥82.72 late Monday. The euro stood at $1.3273 from $1.3291.

Benchmark oil for February delivery was down 71 cents at $90.82 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.