Asia Pacific share market closed higher on Monday, 29 December 2014, catching up gain on the Wall Street after major U.S. indexes hit record highs on Friday amid optimism about the U.S. economic outlook. Meanwhile, buying momentum accelerated after reports that the People's Bank of China is mulling easing liquidity requirements at banks staring next year. MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares was up 0.5% to 138.51.
Among Asian bourses
Australia stocks rise in post-holiday return
Australian share market closed sharp higher, as investors returned from a four-day holiday with cheerful note, thanks to positive cues from US and reports that new bank rules in China will help spur lending. All sectors advanced, with shares in bullion, mining, energy retailer and consumer goods companies being major gainers. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index added 1.47% 5473.80 points and the broader All Ordinaries Index climbed 1.44% or 144% to 5447.5 points. Market turnover was relatively thin, with 923.31 million shares changing hands worth of A$2.57 billion with many fund managers and brokers away for the holidays.
Shares of bullion and iron-ore mining companies closed sharp higher on tracking rebound in commodity prices. Iron ore, which is used to make steel, gained 10 cents to $66.90 before the ASX commenced Monday trade. Gold price moved up 1.9% to $1194.93 an ounce. Resources giant BHP Billiton gained 2.5% to A$29.69, while main rival Rio Tinto rose 2.6% to A$58.05 and Fortescue Metals 7.5% to A$2.73. Gold miner Newcrest rose 4.7% to A$10.94, Perseus Mining 13.6% to A$0.25 and Kingsgate 3.9% to A$0.665.
Energy stocks were also in favour, with Australia's biggest oil producer Woodside Petroleum adding 1.1% to A$38.58 while Origin Energy rose 0.8% to A$11.83, Oil Search 0.8% to A$7.96, and Santos 0.8% to A$8.46.
Financial stocks also ended up, with big four banks leading rally. Westpac Banking Corp advanced 1.3% to A$33.34, ANZ Banking Group 0.7% to A$32.23, National Australia Bank 0.9% to A$33.67, and Commonwealth Bank of Australia 1.3% to A$86.05.
Shares of retailer Myer Holdings gained 8.1% to A$1.48, helped by reports of strong demand for its annual Boxing Day stocktake sale.
Nikkei closes 89.12 points down on Ebola scare
Japanese share market closed down after wiping out early gains, as risk aversion selloff flared in afternoon trade on reports a man is being tested for deadly Ebola virus in Tokyo. The Nikkei Stock Average declined 89.12 points, or 0.5%, to 17729.84.
Tokyo shares opened firmly higher, inspired by last week's strong Wall Street performance. The Tokyo market also reacted positively to the Cabinet's passage of almost $30 billion in stimulus. The package includes measures to bolster smaller businesses hurt by the falling yen and public works projects for rebuilding disaster-hit areas. But, market backpedalled in afternoon trading, erasing more than what accumulated during morning session, after the health ministry announced a suspected case of the deadly Ebola virus.
Shares of health-related companies surged following a report a man is being tested for Ebola in Tokyo. A man who returned to Japan from Sierra Leone on Dec. 23 was suspected of contracting Ebola, the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare said. Test results are expected by Tuesday morning. If confirmed, it would be the first case positive diagnosis in Asia.
Air filter manufacturer Airtech Japan jumped 14.5% to 792 yen. Antibacterial and cleaning equipment maker Azearth Corp climbed 16% to 724 yen. Fujifilm Holdings Corp, which said in November it expected its influenza drug Avigan to be approved to treat Ebola as soon as the end of the year, gained 0.4% to 3783 yen.
China market rises to five-year high on easing reports
Mainland China share market closed near five-year high in volatile trading, amid speculation that new bank rules will help spur lending. The Shanghai Composite rose 0.33% to 3168.02, a highest level since January 2010.
The mainland market commenced trading with firm footing, rising as much as 2.1% in early trading on news that the central bank is changing the way that banks calculate their deposits in order to increase the amount of cash they can lend out. According to reports that China's central bank had changed its rules to allow deposits from non-bank financial institutions to count as reserves, a measure aimed at increasing lending and boosting growth. The market was, however, sunk into negative territory as the day progressed, but managed to eke out a moderate gain in the final minutes of trading.
Shares of property developers climbed up, with Gemdale Corp. adding 5.3%. Shanghai Jinqiao Export Processing Zone Development Co. jumped 5.8% after the government said it would expand the city's free-trade zone to the Jinqiao and Pudong districts.
Shares of PetroChina Co gained 2.1% on earnings optimism after Chinese government raised the threshold for a petroleum windfall tax to $65 per barrel.
The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) data showed that Chinese industrial profits dropped 4.2% in November to 676.12 billion yuan, the biggest annual decline since August 2012 as the economy hit major unexpected headwinds in the second half. Despite last month's drop, profits for January-November were 5.3% higher than in the first 11 months of 2013
Hang Seng gains 1.82% in post-holiday return
Hong Kong share market closed sharp higher, catching up gain in mainland A-shares after returning from a four-day weekend. The gain came after reports that China's central bank had changed its rules to allow deposits from non-bank financial institutions to count as reserves, a measure aimed at increasing lending and boosting growth. The Hang Seng Index ended 423.84 points, or 1.82%, up at 23773.18, off an intra-day high of 23867.46 and low of 23694.53. Turnover amounted to HK$80.4 billion from half-day turnover of HK$39.7 billion on Wednesday in a shortened session. The stock market was closed on Thursday and Friday for Christmas holidays.
Shares of Chinese banks and insurers advanced on liquidity boost news. China Life (02628) put on 8.7% to HK$30.5. Ping An (02318) gained 7.5% to HK$79.25. BankComm (03328) rose 3.3% to HK$7.19. CCB (00939) added 3.2% to HK$6.37.
Mainland developers also raised despite the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) expects property prices will remain weak. Vanke (02202) jumped 4.7% to HK$16.86. COLI (00688) rose 2.8% to HK$22.05.
Shares of internet plays were weaker. Tencent (00700) edged up 0.6% to HK$113.4. Chinasoft (00354) dipped 3% to HK$2.16. Kingsoft (03888) fell 2% to HK$14.88.
Hong Kong's value of total exports of goods (comprising re-exports and domestic exports) edged up 0.4% over a year earlier to HK$326.8 billion in November, after a year-on-year increase of 2.7% in October, according to the Census and Statistics Department. Concurrently, the value of imports of goods increased by 2.4% over a year earlier to HK$378.9 billion in November, after a year-on-year increase of 5.6% in October. A visible trade deficit of HK$52.2 billion, equivalent to 13.8% of the value of imports of goods, was recorded last month.
Sensex gains for second straight session
Indian stock market logged gains on first trading day of the week buoyed by positive Asian stocks. The S&P BSE Sensex rose 153.95 points or 0.57% to settle at 27,395.73. The CNX Nifty rose 45.60 points or 0.56% to settle at 8,246.30.
Metal and mining stocks were in demand on reports of China's central bank adjusting deposits calculation rules. Pharma stocks rose on overseas earning optimism as rupee edged lower against the dollar.
In the foreign exchange market, the rupee edged lower against the dollar due to appreciation of the greenback against other currencies overseas. The partially convertible rupee was hovering at 63.6850, compared with its close of 63.57 on Friday, 26 December 2014.
Elsewhere in the Asia Pacific region: Taiwan's Taiex index rose 0.74% to 9286.28. South Korea KOSPI was down 1.04% to 1927.86. New Zealand's NZX50 rose 0.63% at 5592.33. Singapore's Straits Times index rose 0.42% at 3367.70. Indonesia's Jakarta Composite index added 0.22% to 5178.37. Malaysia's KLCI added 0.23% to 17468.41.
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