Asian Stocks Rise, Led by Resource Firms
Asian stocks posted modest gains on Tuesday, led by shares in resource companies, as strong U.S. factory data and surging commodities prices offset fears that unrest in Egypt could spread elsewhere in the Middle East.
But gains were limited amid fears that China may embark on further tightening steps ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday that starts on Wednesday and as the yen hovered near a 4-week trough against the greenback, pressuring exporters.
Japan's stocks bounced back from a one-month closing low, with oil-related shares and firms with high exposure to the U.S., such as Honda Motor, gaining on hopes for sustained recovery in that market after robust earnings.
The benchmark Nikkei ended the day up 0.4 percent, after falling 1.2 percent to a one-month closing low on Monday. The broader Topix advanced 0.4 percent to 913.52.
Seoul shares posted a mild recovery in light volume, helped by POSCO and financials.
Gains were offset by foreign selling on uncertainties over the global economic landscape such as price inflation following the turmoil in Egypt.
The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) ended up 0.11 percent.
Australian stocks gave up early gains to close slightly weaker after a cyclone threatening Queensland state hit some insurers, but miners and energy stocks were underpinned by higher commodity prices.
Suncorp Group , whose home insurance provides automatic cover for floods, slid 3.0 percent, while Insurance Australia Group fell 2.1 percent and QBE Insurance was down 1.5 percent.
BHP Billiton rose 0.8 percent after copper prices rallied to a record high, while Woodside Petroleum also gained 0.8 percent after Brent crude prices topped $100 a barrel.
The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index closed 1.818 points lower at 4,752.1. The index fell 0.4 percent on Monday.
Small coal gasification group Cougar Energy lost half its value in heavy trade, sinking to A$0.022 after saying that the Queensland government has proposed to force it to shut its Kingaroy underground operations. Cougar said it would consider challenging the notice.
China's main stock index ended up 0.3 percent at a more than two-week high, led by resource issues such as oil companies, underpinned by easing liquidity conditions in the money market.
China's key money market rates fell back sharply on Tuesday as cash calls on account of the week-long Lunar New Year holiday starting on Wednesday, eased, traders said.
The Shanghai Composite Index ended at 2,799 points, poking through the 125-day moving average level, now at 2,797 points.
Hong Kong's Hang Seng snapped a three-day losing streak closing up 0.2 percent, as gains in oil counters lifted the benchmark, but overall turnover fell to its lowest since Jan. 3 suggesting investors were largely on the sidelines ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday.
In Southeast Asia, Malaysia's Kuala Lumpur Composite Index (KLCI) finished down 0.1 percent and Singapore's Straits Times Index (STI) ended up 0.2 percent as investors hunted for bargains following a sharp sell-off in the previous trading session.
Singapore-listed Chinese shipbuilder Yangzijiang Shipbuilding rose as much as 2.7 percent on bullish sentiment about the company's order execution and a positive broker report on its recent joint venture.
The FTSE CNBC Asia 100 index rose 0.6 percent.