Asia-Pacific Markets

Asian Markets Rise, But Financials Ease

Asian markets rose Monday, with resource companies benefiting from stronger metals and oil prices, while the dollar rose, shrugging off worse-than-expected U.S. job losses. But concerns about the impact of the credit crisis on the financial system lingered, driving banking shares lower. Japan closed over 1 percent higher.

In Australia, ANZ Banking Group fell more than 6 percent after it said it expected total bad debt provision in in the first-half of fiscal 2008 to be about A$975 million (US$894 million).  In Seoul, Kookmin Bank and Woori Finance Holdings both fell around 2 percent after a local newspaper report pointed to South Korean losses related to the global credit crisis.

Surprisingly weak U.S. jobs data added to evidence that the credit crisis may have tipped the U.S. economy into recession. U.S. Treasuries rose on the news on Friday but gave up some of their gains on Monday. The U.S. dollar initially fell but recouped losses, supported by dollar buying by Japanese importers and talk that Japanese investors were selling the yen against higher-yielding currencies.

Tokyo's Nikkei 225 Average added 1.2 percent to end the day at a five-week closing high, as higher oil and metals prices boosted trading houses such as Mitsui & Co and other resource firms. Nippon Steel and other steel shares fell on the prospect of a more than 200 percent rise in the coking coal prices they must pay to miners in the financial year that started on April 1, squeezing their profits.

South Korea's KOSPI closed higher extending a rally with technology shares, but POSCO shares fell after the company said it agreed to a sharp rise in coal prices with an Australian supplier.

Australian shares were little changed, as Australia and New Zealand Banking Group and other banks fell on worries over more writedowns for bad assets, but resource firms rose on stronger oil and metals prices.

Hong Kong stocks climbed 1.3 percent, boosted by surging 'A' shares in the mainland as well as energy and property plays, as investors shrugged off jitters about a U.S. recession after the biggest monthly fall in jobs there in five years.

China's Shanghai Composite Index jumped 4.5 percent, led by shares in base metals producers, as the market's short-term technical outlook turned positive following a month-long slide. Base metal producers were boosted by strong prices for copper and aluminum on the London Metal Exchange. Aluminium Corp of China was up almost 9 percent.

Singapore's Straits Times Index closed 0.8 percent higher, with a mixed performance by blue chips. Shares of Jade Technologies tumbled as much as 68 percent in heavy turnover on news that the firm's president, Anthony Soh, did not have enough funds to go ahead with a bid to take the company private.