Asia-Pacific Markets

Asian Markets Close Broadly Higher, Singapore in Favor

Asian markets finished broadly in positive territory Monday, with Singapore seeing the best of the day's gains. Japan and South Korea both finished higher but Australia gave up earlier gains to close just a touch lower.

Markets in Hong Kong and China were closed for a holiday. Hong Kong reopens Tuesday while Chinese markets resume trading October 8.

Tokyo's Nikkei 225 Average ended slightly higher, as Sony and other large-cap stocks gained after the Bank of Japan's tankan survey showed optimism, but IHI tumbled after slashing its annual earnings outlook, bringing down other machinery shares.    The tankan's headline diffusion index for big manufacturers' sentiment was plus 23, slightly above the market's median forecast of plus 22 and matching the previous survey's reading in

South Korea's KOSPI rose 0.8% to a two-month closing peak, helped by POSCO after the steel maker announced a hike in stainless steel prices, while brokers rallied on expectations of positive quarterly earnings. But chipmakers such as Hynix Semiconductor declined on continuing worries about falling chip prices, while Dongbu Steel slid 4%on a media report that it was facing problems in funding for a new steel plant. 

Australian shares shed early gains finish lower, as Westfield Group and other firms with big overseas earnings fell on worries that a rise in the Australian dollar to 18-year highs would erode the value of overseas profits. However, a jump in bullion prices lifted shares in gold miners such as Newcrest Mining, capping losses in the market.

Singapore's Straits Times Index closed 1.3% in the green to hit a record high for the third straight session on follow-through buying from last week from institutional investors who are bullish on the Asian story, following China's decision to liberalize investments.  Shares of China-based companies like Cosco and Yangzijiang Shipbuilding surged to record highs, extending gains led by investor speculation that these stocks will be candidates for soon-to-be launched China funds.