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Most Asian Markets End Up in Quiet Trade

CNBC with wires
Monday, 23 Nov 2009 | 5:18 AM ET

Most Asian stock markets edged higher on Monday in quiet trade, with Japan closed for Labor Thanksgiving Day.

U.S. stock fell on Friday for a third straight day on worries over a lackluster economic recovery following disappointing results from computer-maker Dell and homebuilder D.R. Horton.

The Australian market gained ground this session, supported by stronger resource stocks, a surge in gold miners and as banks came off early lows.

Index heavyweights BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto rose 1.0 percent and 3.6 percent respectively. Rio Tinto said it expects to receive at least $741 million from the flotation of its U.S. coal-mining unit Cloud Peak Energy in New York on Friday.

Gold miners got a boost as gold hit another record above $1,160 an ounce. The country's biggest gold firm, Newcrest Mining, and Lihir Gold gained over 3 percent each.

Building materials firm James Hardie shares jumped 6.4 percent after the company reported a half-year loss but predicted underlying full-year earnings to meet the top of market forecasts.

Harvey Norman surged 5.2 percent following bullish comments by its chairman that sales in the lead-up to Christmas would be an "absolute record".

Prospects for a strong Christmas trading season helped retailer JB Hi-Fi to climb 3.6 percent and David Jones to gain 2.5 percent.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index climbed 0.7 percent to end Monday at 4,717.9 points.

Seoul, Taipei End Flat

Seoul shares finished lower after drifting in a tight range. Financials gained but losses in key technology and auto stocks weighed.

The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) slipped 0.1 percent at 1,619.0 points.

Korea Exchange Bank came into focus after Hana Financial on Friday voiced interest in acquiring KEB. Shares in the country's No. 6 lender rose over 4 percent before trimming gains to 1.37 percent. Hana Financial advanced 0.5 percent.

LG Electronics pared earlier losses to close lower at 0.46 percent amid renewed speculation that the electronics giant may bid for Hynix Semiconductor. Its shares were further pressured by news that the country's No. 2 mobile carrier, KT Corp, will start selling Apple's iPhone this Saturday.

Shares of Hynix, the world's No. 2 memory chip maker, fell 0.5 percent.

Taiwan stocks finished flat, with the benchmark Taiex edging up 0.05 percent to 7,687.1 points.

Techs dragged on the market as concerns over consumer demand prompted profit taking by foreign investors.

Chip designer Mediatek, the most-active stock by turnover, dropped 0.7 percent. UMC, the world's second-biggest contract chip maker, fell 1.57 percent.

LCD makers like Chi Mei Optoelectronics rose 1.23 percent before paring gains, and rival AU Optronics gained 0.3 percent, on expectations of higher panel prices.

Contract PC maker Compal outperformed its peers to edge up 0.7 percent after a local newspaper said that its parent group would sign a deal with a Chinese ministry to jointly develop a 3G cellular network based on China's TD-SCDMA standard.

HK, Shanghai Gain

Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index rose 1.4 percent to 22,771.4 points as metals-related stocks advanced.

Zijing Mining was up and Realgold Mining also gained, led by gold's rise to another record high. Aluminum Corp of China climbed and Jingxi Copper rose.

Cathay Pacific also advanced, up 1.9 pecent after the carrier said it saw some improvement in its business and first-class travel.

Taifook Securities climbed on news China's Haitong Securities will buy a 52.86 percent stake from NWS Holdings for $235 million. It will also make a general offer for all outstanding shares. NWS was up 1.2 percent.

ICBC climbed 0.9 percent. The Chinese lender said Malaysia's central bank has granted its wholly owned Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Berhad a business license to provide commercial banking in the country.

Glorious Property shed 0.7 percent after the Chinese developer said it would buy two large parcels of land in Shanghai, a deal to be funded by internal sources and bank financing.

China's key Shanghai Composite edged up 0.9 percent to 3,338.66 points by the close.

In Southeast Asia, Singapore's STI rose 1.3 percent while Malaysia's KLCI slipped 0.3 percent.

Singapore's Sembcorp Industries outperformed the broader market, after it signed a $1 billion joint venture power and water project with Oman.

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