Asian markets climb in wake of heavy sell-off

By Danny McCord, AFP

HONG KONG–Asian markets climbed on Tuesday as dealers took a breather from a recent heavy sell-off caused by concerns over the debt-ridden eurozone and hoped for a positive outcome from key G-7 talks. With little to drive sentiment after the weekend, analysts said there was an opportunity to buy after most regional bourses fell into negative territory for the first time in 2012. Traders were looking to a telephone conference call later in the day between finance ministers and central bankers of the Group of Seven to see if they could come up with a plan to quell Europe’s troubles, especially in Spain.

Tokyo finished up 1.04 percent, or 86.37 points, at 8,382.00, and Hong Kong was up 0.40 percent, gaining 73.44 points to close at 18,259.03. Sydney was one of the region’s biggest risers, ending 1.47 percent, or 58.7 points, higher at 4,043.7, after the central bank cut interest rates. Seoul closed up 1.05 percent, or 18.72 points, at 1,801.85, and Chinese shares edged up 0.15 percent, or 3.37 points, to 2,311.92. Despite the gains there were still signs of concern over the deteriorating global outlook. Australia cut interest rates by 25 basis points to 3.5 percent, citing fears over Europe’s crisis and easing growth in key trade partner China. It adds to the 50 basis-point cut the Reserve Bank of Australia announced last month and puts rates at a level not seen in the booming mining economy since November 2009. As well as the G-7 talks, markets were looking to a European Central Bank (ECB) rate-setting meeting Wednesday, with investors hoping it will announce moves to kickstart the region’s stuttering economy. Masaru Hamasaki, chief strategist at Toyota Asset Management, said: “Any mention by leaders of measures to stabilize the state of Europe’s financial system may calm the market, and invite some buying.” Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy called at the weekend for a banking union in Europe, which would be able to provide aid to lenders, especially in Spain, a move that was seeing support in France and at the ECB. However, Germany remained strongly opposed for the moment. Global markets have been hammered since the start of May as Europe’s debt troubles returned after a Greek general election saw a strong showing for anti-austerity parties, while Spain’s bank crisis has left the already creaking economy teetering. On currency markets the euro — which last week hit a 23-month low versus the dollar and a near 12-year low against the yen — slipped a little in early European trade after earlier making up ground in Asia. The common unit was changing hands at US$1.2433, down from US$1.2494 in New York on Monday, while it was at 97.24 yen from 97.89 yen. The dollar was at 78.21 yen from 76.36 yen. Gold was down slightly to $1,617.60 an ounce at 1100 GMT, compared with $1,622.08 late Monday. In other markets:

— Mumbai edged up 0.2 percent, or 32.24 points, to 16,020.64. India’s leading vehicle maker Tata Motors fell 3.15 percent to 221.55 rupees while mobile phone giant Bharti Airtel slid 2.58 percent to 287.05. — Bangkok fell 1.44 percent, or 16.04 points, to 1,099.15. Energy firm Banpu dropped 4 percent to 432.00 baht, while oil giant PTT lost 0.66 percent to 303 baht. — Kuala Lumpur ended 0.33 percent, or 5.18 points, higher, at 1,560.36. Budget carrier AirAsia Bhd gained 2.56 percent to 3.6 ringgit, while financial firm CIMB Group Holdings added 0.68 percent to 7.42. — Jakarta rose 1.73 percent, or 63,294 points, to 3,717.876. Car maker Astra was up 5.6 percent to 6,600 rupiah and Bank Rakyat was up 1.9 percent to 5,350 rupiah. — Singapore closed up 0.5 percent, or 13.41 points, to 2,712.31. Commodities firm Olam International gained 1.31 percent to SG$1.55 while Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp. was up 0.24 percent at SG$8.20. — Wellington was down 0.9 percent, or 31.20 points, to 3,420.79.