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Japan Slips to 4-Month Low, Asia Ends Mixed

CNBC with wires
Thursday, 19 Nov 2009 | 2:42 AM ET

Asian markets ended mixed on Thursday, as concerns over the pace of economic recovery weighed on sentiment. Tokyo slipped to a four-month low, Sydney edged up while Seoul gained 1 percent.

Stocks on Wall Street snapped a three-day winning streak overnight, after weak outlooks from two software firms and a report showing housing starts fell sharply in October.

Japan's Nikkei Average fell to a four-month closing low as financials, autos and a broad range of exporters lost ground.

Disappointing U.S. data renewed worries about the economic recovery and weighed on sentiment.

Financials came under pressure, after Mitsubishi UFJ said on Wednesday it would raise a massive $11 billion to meet stricter capital rules. MUFJ shares slumped 4.1 percent while Sumitomo Mitsui lost 4.9 percent.

Economic worries and a stronger yen hurt a broad range of exporters. Honda Motor lost 3.5 percent and Canon shed 3.1 percent.

The benchmark index declined 1.3 percent 9,549.4 points after falling as far as 9,496.07. The broader Topix fell to a six month low and was last quoted down 1.45 percent at 837.7 points.

Seoul Up As Techs, Financials Gain

Seoul shares extended gains to past the 1,600 mark, as program trading and foreign buying lifted key technology firms and market heavyweights.

Oversold sectors such as technology made strong gains. Hynix Semiconductor rose 2.4 percent and LG Electronics climbed 1.47 percent. Banks such as KB Financial Group advanced 1.79 percent.

Grand Korea Leisure, South Korea's top foreigner-only casino operator and a unit of the government tourism agency, made a strong debut, finishing at 15,850 won ($13.71) versus its IPO price of 12,000 won.

The Korea Composite Stock Price Index rose 1.03 percent to 1,620.5 points.


Sydney Trades Flat

Australian shares made a dash for positive ground in late trade, with the benchmark index closing 0.2 percent higher after drifting much of the session in the absence of clear market leads.

The S&P/ASX 200 ended at 4,749.2 after touching 4,761 earlier. The index is up about 51 percent from a five-year closing low reached in early March.

Insurance Australia Group jumped 4.9 percent, buoyed by hopes that former suitor QBE may bid for the insurer again.

Higher oil and metals prices bolstered miners and energy companies. BHP Billiton pared gains to close 0.6 percent and Rio Tinto finished flat.

Newcrest Mining, the country's largest gold miner, pared gains to 1.5 percent after gold hit a new record high above $1,150 an ounce.

Building materials group James Hardie declined 0.7 percent after home building in the U.S. fell in October to its lowest level in six months.

Sam's Seafood surged 24 percent in heavy trade after it said it was mulling an acquisition of a company that has manganese and coal rights in Indonesia "that may have high potential".

Taiwan's Taiex finished flat, down 0.09 percent at 7,759.98 points, as the market lacked momentum to go higher on the back of weak U.S. shares.

Construction stocks got a boost from a local media report that the government would not use financials tools to depress housing prices. Shining Building Business rose 3.3 percent.

China's Shanghai Composite gained 0.5 percent at 3,320.6 points.

The Hong Kong market tracked Wall Street's modest fall, with the Hang Seng index down 0.9 percent as profit-taking pressure continued after the index hit 23,099 yesterday.

Sino Land rose 2.7 percent and Sun Hung Kai Properties gained 0.7 percent.

China Tontine Wines climbed 22 percent and Longfore Properties advanced 10 percent in their trading debuts.

Singapore's STI gained 0.5 percent, as banks and big property stocks rose.

The island's economy expanded slower than initially estimated in the third quarter. The government sees growth resuming next year as the global recovery takes hold but has warned that the pace of rebound will likely be sluggish.

In Malaysia, the country's leading mobile provider, Maxis made a strong debut, with shares opening 9 percent above its issue price. Maxis raised $3.3 billion in the world's seventh-largest IPO this year. The KLCI ended 0.1 percent higher.

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