Asian markets mixed after Wall Street rise


TOKYO — Asian markets were mixed Wednesday, with profit-taking in several bourses coming after an overnight rise on Wall Street.

Singapore’s main index added 2 percent, and stocks rose also in China, Hong Kong, Malaysia and the Philippines. Shares fell in Australia and South Korea, and remained flat in Indonesia and New Zealand.

In Japan, stocks slid for a third-straight session in light trading as concerns lingered over U.S. subprime mortgage problems.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 index dropped 262.02 points, or 1.6 percent, on the Tokyo Stock Exchange, to finish at 16,158.45 points.

Traders said concerns remain over the future impact of U.S. subprime mortgage problems, causing global market volatility over the past month.

Losers included blue-chip exporters and real estate shares. Toyota Motor Corp. fell 1.04 percent and Canon Inc. tumbled 3.17 percent, while Sumitomo Realty & Development Co. sank 4.86 percent.

Machinery stocks also declined, with Komatsu Ltd. shedding 2.83 percent.

The broader Topix index, which includes all shares on the exchange’s first section, shed 27.27 points, or 1.71 percent, to 1,569.47 points.

Ahead of Labor Day weekend, U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said the Fed stood ready to “act as needed” to prevent credit troubles from hurting the economy, which investors said hinted at the Fed’s willingness to lower interest rates.

On Wednesday in Tokyo, Japan’s banking minister, Yoshimi Watanabe, told reporters the impact of the U.S. subprime mortgage problems on the Japanese economy will likely be limited.

“While global financial markets fell into unstable conditions, the troubles in the subprime market are unlikely to have a huge impact on Japan’s real economy or financial system,” Watanabe said.

He said Tokyo’s share prices may also fall more as players sell stocks to cover subprime losses.

Watanabe’s comments on the economic impact helped boost Hong Kong shares, as the blue-chip Hang Seng Index added 397.08 points in morning trade to a fresh intraday record high of 24,283.15 points.

The index later retreated on profit-taking, but still finished up on gains led by heavyweight China Mobile (Hong Kong) Ltd.

The HSI closed up 183.10 points, or 0.8 percent, at 24,069.17.

Traders said they don’t foresee a big downturn on the local bourse in the near term, as strong corporate results would lend support.

“The subprime issue is just an excuse for profit-taking. This issue won’t kill Hong Kong stocks,” said Kitty Chan, a director at Celestial Asia Securities Ltd.

China Mobile, the country’s largest mobile phone operator by subscribers, rose 1.7 percent.

Banking giant HSBC rose 0.1 percent. The bank’s purchase of Korea Exchange Bank is “strategically positive” as the deal will improve HSBC’s profit growth profile in the longer run, said Bear Stearns Asia Ltd.


BANGKOK: Thai shares rose on muted volume, with energy, shipping and industrial issues dominating activity. The main SET Index added 0.5 percent to 814.50.

JAKARTA: Indonesian shares finished flat as investors awaited Thursday’s central bank meeting on interest rates policy. The main index lost less than half a point to 2,214.622 in thin volume.

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian shares rose in moderate volume, with the main KLCI index adding 1.1 percent to close at 1,297.93.

MANILA: Philippine shares rebounded, led by Manila Electric Co., aided by Wall Street’s overnight advance. The 30-company Philippine Stock Exchange Index gained 130.05 points, or 0.9 percent, at 3,342.35, after retreating 1.7 percent Tuesday.

MUMBAI: Indian shares ended an eight-day winning streak, pulled down by automobile stocks over concerns high interest rates could hurt vehicle sales. The Bombay Stock Exchange’s 30-stock Sensitive Index lost 19.25 points, or 0.1 percent, to end at 15446.15.

SEOUL: South Korean shares edged down as profit-taking hit steel-makers, but Hyundai Motor advanced after a peaceful settlement with union workers over wage negotiations. The Korea Composite Stock Price Index, or Kospi, finished 9.15 points, or 0.5 percent, lower at 1,865.59.

SHANGHAI: Chinese stocks rose as a rally in U.S. gold futures pushed metals shares higher. Large-capitalized shares fell on fears that upcoming share offerings might sap demand. The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index gained 16.67 points, or 0.3 percent, to 5,310.72. The Shenzhen Composite Index rose 0.4 percent to 1,476.10.

SINGAPORE: Singapore shares rose on Wall Street’s overnight gains and a strong showing by some blue chips, though a computer glitch made the benchmark Straits Times Index calculations unreliable for part of the day. The index ended up 2 percent, or 69.02 points, at 3445.08 points.

SYDNEY: Australian shares closed down after retreating sharply from a six-week high as offshore markets weakened. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 shed 30.6 points, or 0.5 percent, to 6,262.7 on light volume.

WELLINGTON: New Zealand shares closed flat on modest volume, with the benchmark NZX-50 index inching up 4.5 points, or 0.1 percent, to 4,155.