US recovery hopes help steady markets in Asia


AFP

HONG KONG — Hopes for the U.S. economic recovery on Monday helped soothe Asian markets shaken by the eurozone’s debt crisis and tensions on the Korean peninsula. Tokyo’s Nikkei Index ended the session up 0.86 percent, or 86.43 points, at 10,125.99, with consumer electronic stocks like Sony buoyed by signs of a strong U.S. shopping season and a firmer dollar also providing support. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index ended up 1.26 percent, or 288.97 points, at 23,166.22, recovering most of the previous week’s losses, with bellwether consumer goods trading firm Li and Fung rising 4.71 percent during the day. Sydney’s S&P/ASX 200 edged up 0.44 percent, or 20.2 points, to 4,618.5. However Shanghai’s Composite Index closed down 0.19 percent, or 5.34 points, at 2,866.36, as concerns persist about Chinese efforts to cool the mainland economy. Seoul’s Kospi index, jarred by last week’s deadly exchange of fire with the North and subsequent angry rhetoric, ended down 0.33 percent, or 6.26 points, at 1,895.54. Japanese traders were more focused on the U.S. outlook however, with signs of a strong shopping season to be followed on Friday by U.S. jobs data that analysts say will indicate a firmer U.S. recovery. Kenichi Hirano, operating officer at Tachibana Securities, said market players were “starting to see U.S. spending rise as a result of ‘savings fatigue,’” although it was too early to say whether strong U.S. consumption would persist through next year. However worries remained about the eurozone and the international bailout of Ireland, as analysts warn of further questions around other economies in the euro area. The euro touched a fresh two-month low in Tokyo trade, even as Bank of France governor Christian Noyer, speaking in Tokyo, said he had “no doubt” that the 85 billion euro bailout agreed by the European Union and International Monetary Fund would be successful. “The package has been clearly designed by the IMF and the EU and you can rely on the multi-decade experience of the IMF to put in place plans which are totally credible,” Noyer told reporters.

However Barclays Capital strategist David Forrester was less optimistic, telling Dow Jones Newswires: “We think that rallies will remain limited in the euro and expect concerns about the other peripheral euro-area countries to continue to weigh further on the euro.” In Shanghai, Zhang Yuheng at Capital Securities said mainland China investors were likely to remain on the sidelines until an annual Central Economic Work Conference expected in early December. “Sentiment remains cautious as more signs have indicated that further tightening of China’s monetary policy is likely,” said Zhang. Wall Street ended a rollercoaster week on a low Friday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell one percent for the week, while the S&P 500 was down 0.7 percent as the news was dominated by Ireland’s 85 billion euro bailout from the European Union and International Monetary Fund.

Gold closed at US$1,366.00-US$1,367.00 an ounce in Hong Kong, unchanged from Friday’s close. In other markets:

— Taipei rose 0.66 percent, or 55.02 points, to 8,367.17 after local elections in which the ruling Kuomintang won three of the five mayoral posts up for grabs Saturday. — Wellington rose 0.19 percent, or 6.14 points, to 3,270.38. — Manila was closed for a public holiday. — Jakarta fell 0.33 percent, or 11.86 points, to 3,630.63.

— Singapore’s Straits Times Index closed flat at 3,158.21. — Kuala Lumpur rose 0.26 percent, or 3.90 points, to 1,495.95. — Bangkok rose 1.74 percent, or 17.29 points, to 1,009.00. — Mumbai closed 1.38 percent, or 263.66 points, higher at 19,400.27.