Asian Stocks End Mostly Higher
Sydney and Tokyo led Asian bourses higher in what was a mixed day for the region marked by thin trade as investors stayed on the sidelines in the wake of the U.S. Thanksgiving Day holiday.
Indian markets re-opened a day after massive attacks by militants in Mumbai, with the Bombay Sensitive 20 Index down by more than 1 percent in reaction to the carnage that killed 121 people and wounded 279 others, according to police.
Thailand's key stock index showed some resilence to the political crisis in which antigovernment protestors have forced the closure of its two airports in the capital, Bangkok. The SET rose 1.2 percent in afternoon trade.
The yen gained against the dollar and the euro , as investors were nervous over the prospects for the U.S. economy, and preferred the safety of the low-yielding Japanese currency. Oil prices fell while gold was steady in light trade.
Japan's Nikkei 225 Average gained 1.7 percent to log its best week in a month. The market was boosted by an aggressive interest rate cut in China to counter its slowing economy. The move lifted China-related stocks such as shipper Kawasaki Kisen and trading house Itochu Corp. Kyocera soared on news of a share buyback. But shares of Panasonic tumbled 11 percent after the firm cut its annual profit forecast. Government data showed Japan's October industrial output fell sharply while unemployment rate unexpectedly fell to 3.7 percent in October, down from 4.0 percent in September.
Seoul stocks ended the week higher to post four straight sessions of gains. The rise was led by tech and auto exporters after the government said the country's current account would swing to a surplus next year after projecting a deficit for 2008. Bank and construction stocks stayed firm, despite a request by units of C&Group, a construction and engineering conglomerate, for debt restructuring.
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Australian stocks climbed 4.3 percent to take the benchmark share index 9.5 percent higher for the week, its biggest ever weekly gain. The S&PASX 200 firmed on the strength of big miners BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto as investors bet that commodity prices would rise again after the recent selloff. Banks and retailers also gained ground ahead of the central bank's monthly board meeting next week. The market is widely expecting the Reserve Bank of Australia to cut 75 basis points from the official interest rates, which could help boost consumer demand. Leading wheat exporter AWB said it was in discussions with ABB Grain on a potential tie up which would create the country's biggest wheat and barley exporter.
Singapore's Straits Times Index closed 1.3 percent higher, while Malaysia's KLCI shed 0.4 percent.
The positive tone of this week continued in Hong Kong. The Hang Seng Index extended Thursday's gains to climb 2.5 percent, buoyed by telecom stocks such as China Mobile. The property sector also rose, with Cheung Kong gaining 4.1 percent and Sun Hung Kai Properties up by 6.7 percent.
China's key Shanghai Composite Index deepended losses by afternoon trade, shedding 2.4 percent led by financials in response to the central bank's biggest monetary easing in a decade announced earlier this week.