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Asia Pacific Market: Stocks rise on bargain hunting, eyes on French election

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Pacific share market ended slightly higher on Thursday, 20 April 2017, helped by bottom fishing in recently battered stocks, with defensives such as the consumer and healthcare sectors being major gainers. However, market topside capped, as investors remained on the sidelines for a lack of economic cues while uncertainties around the French elections over the weekend kept global risk appetite muted.

The will be closely watched as the stakes for investors are high, with two anti-EU, anti-euro candidates among the four seen still in contention to make it to a second round two weeks after Sunday's ballot.

Among Asian bourses

Australia: Shares gain lead by banks, telcos

Australian finished session slightly higher on Thursday, 20 April 2017, as bargain hunters bought stocks that were battered in the last few sessions. Most of the ASX sectors advanced, with banks and telecom heavyweights being major gainers, while resources stocks continued to be under pressure from weaker commodity prices. The S&P/ASX 200 index gained 0.3% or 17.39 points to end the session at 5821.40. Declining stocks outnumbered rising ones by 583 to 499 and 354 ended unchanged on the Sydney Stock Exchange. The S&P/ASX 200 VIX, which measures the implied volatility of S&P/ASX 200 options, was up 0.53% to 13.710.

The telecom index posted second straight session of gains after four days of falls. Telstra Corp, Australia's largest telecoms company, and TPG Telecom both ended 2.9% higher.

The 'big four' banks ended higher. Australia & New Zealand picked up 1.2%, National Australia Bank rose 0.9%, Commonwealth Bank of Australia added 0.6% and Westpac gained 0.2%.

Energy stocks finished lower, with oil majors Woodside Petroleum falling 1.2% after it reported weak sales revenue and volumes after production was dampened back by tropical storms and heavy rains in the first three months of the year. Santos was 2.5% weaker after its quarterly numbers showed a further reduction in debt but lower production following recent asset sales.

Materials and resources were also down, with BHP Billiton down 1.1%, Fortescue Metals Group down by 1.2% and Oz Minerals sink 3% following steady declines in iron ore the past week, and in the wake of quarterly trading updates from several resources companies.. Rio Tinto fared somewhat better, falling 0.4% after it lowered its mined copper target for the year but held steady on production guidance for other important commodities, including iron ore and aluminum. Mineral sands miner Iluka jumped 11% amid signs of improved demand in the market and after its acquisition of Sierra Rutile drove sharp increases in first-quarter revenue and production.

Japan Stocks end nearly flat

The Japan share market finished nearly flat for second straight session, as halt in yen appreciation and the country's strong trade data lifted sentiment. However, upside was capped as investors remained cautious ahead of global risk events such as the first-round of at the weekend and mounting tensions over North Korea. The Nikkei 225 share average ended 0.01% lower at 18,430.49 while the broader Topix gained 0.09% to 1,472.81.

Chip makers advanced after Semiconductor Equipment Association of Japan said that producers of flat-panel-display equipment posted 55.86 billion yen in orders in March and a book-to-bill ratio of 1.40, up 36.5% from the previous month. Tokyo Electron rose 0.8% and Advantest Corp jumped 4.5%

Mining stocks declined with Inpex Corp and Japan Petroleum Exploration Co underperformed, falling 1.3% and 1.7%, respectively, after oil fell to a two-week low on Wednesday before recovering in Thursday's Asian trade. It was hit by a surprising build in U.S. gasoline inventories and a rise in U.S. crude output.

The Ministry of Finance released trade statistics on Thursday, showing Japan's March exports rose 12% on year, after gaining 11.3% in February, led by higher shipments of auto parts, optical equipment (steppers, etc.) and steel on a gradual pickup in global demand. Meanwhile, imports gained 15.8% on year, after +1.2% in February, as crude oil and fuel prices continued to post year-on-year gains. As a result, the March registered a trade surplus of Y614.7 trillion, the second consecutive black ink. It narrowed from a surplus of Y813.5 billion in February and a surplus of Y744.9 billion in March 2016.

China Stocks snap 4-day losing streak

The Mainland China closed higher for the first time in five straight sessions, as investors chased for bottom fishing in recently battered stocks, with defensives such as the consumer and healthcare sectors being major gainers, while fleeing small caps and stocks related to the new Xiongan economic zone. The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index was flat, inching up 1.41 points to 3,172.10 and the Shenzhen Composite Index, which tracks stocks on China's second exchange, eased 0.19%, or 3.68 points, to 1,928.78.

Investors rushed into sectors that promise stable returns and generous dividend payouts, pushing both consumer and healthcare indexes up over 2%, while an index tracking liquor makers jumped 3.3%.

Xiongan has been widely seen as a high-profile property and infrastructure investment theme, but rocketing share price rises for firms which could benefit from the plan have prompted warnings from regulators about excessive speculation.

Shares of country's major lenders slid amid worries over increasing regulation and after Moody's said results of Chinese banks for 2016 showed continued pressure on profitability.

Hong Kong Stocks snap three-day sell-off

The Hong Kong closed comfortably higher after a three-day sell-off, as investors chased for bottom fishing on recently battered stocks after China announced fresh tax cuts. However, market topside capped amid lingering geopolitical concerns and worries about the future of Donald Trump's huge stimulus programme. The Hang Seng Index ended 0.97%, or 231.10 points, higher at 24056.98. The China Enterprises Index gained 0.7% to 10,056.17. Turnover decreased to HK$67.7 billion from HK$72.2 billion on Wednesday. Thirty-nine stocks rose among the 50 blue chips, and nine fell, with one stock remain steady.

The northbound quota balance of the "Shanghai-HK Connect" program was RMB12.07 billion, accounting for 92.8% of the daily allowed quota of RMB13 billion. The southbound quota balance was RMB9.307 billion, accounting for 88.6% of the daily allowed quota of RMB10.5 billion. As for the Shenzhen-HK Connect, the northbound quota balance was RMB12.181 billion, accounting for 93.7% of the daily allowed quota of RMB13 billion. The southbound quota balance was RMB10.273 billion, accounting for 97.8% of the daily allowed quota of RMB10.5 billion.

Geely Automobile (00175) rose 3.2% to HK$11.64 after yesterday's rally of 6.4%. Internet and technology plays stole the spotlight today. Tencent (00700) jumped 2.8% to HK$236.6. Forgame (00484) soared 14.8% to HK$10.08. Boyaa Interactive (00434) also shot up 10% to HK$4.1. IGG (00799) jumped 6.8% to HK$10.5. Kingsoft (03888) climbed 5% to HK$20.5. AAC Technologies (02018) put on 2% to HK$102.3. Sunny Optical (02382) surged 4.7% to HK$59.5.

India market settles with modest gains

India Key benchmark indices settled with modest gains after gyrating in a small range in the positive terrain throughout the day as largely positive global cues supported gains. The barometer index, the S&P BSE Sensex, rose 85.82 points or 0.29% to settle at 29,422.39. The Nifty 50 index rose 32.90 points or 0.36% to settle at 9,136.40. The Sensex gained for the second day in a row while Nifty snapped a five-day losing streak today, 20 April 2017. Realty, IT, bank, capital goods and FMCG stocks hogged limelight in today's trade. Yes Bank dropped as the bank's bad loans rose in Q4.

Meanwhile, foreign portfolio investors (FPIs) net sold shares worth Rs673.38 crore during Wednesday's trading session, as per provisional data.

Private sector lender Yes Bank plunged 3.76% after it yesterday reported rise in NPA levels for the quarter ended March, even though net profit grew 30.2% to Rs 914.12 crore. ICICI Bank and Axis Bank too were under pressure and lost up to 2.90%.

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(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, April 20 2017. 17:36 IST