Nikkei at 2-Mth Lows as Dow Ends Below 10,000

Asian markets traded mixed on Tuesday with Japanese stocks sliding, after the Dow industrials closed below 10,000 for the first time since November hit by heightened concerns about the euro zone’s sovereign debt troubles.

The Nikkei 225 average [JP;N225  9910.88  -40.9404  (-0.41%) ] hit its lowest in two months, with shares of exporters falling as heightened concerns about the euro zone’s sovereign debt troubles continued to hurt investor confidence.

Advantest slid 2.2 percent to 2,048 yen and Honda Motor declined 0.5 percent to 3,020 yen.

Toyota Motor gained 1.7 percent to 3,335 yen on short covering as the company prepares for a global recall of its new Prius model. Toyota shares, which have lost about a fifth of their value since late January, dropped another 2.5 percent [TM  72.85 -1.86  (-2.49%) ] on the New York Stock Exchange on Monday.

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Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group, Japan’s third-biggest bank by assets, rose 1.5 percent to 2,815 yen after it outshone its larger rivals and posted its biggest profit in seven quarters on Monday, helped by an improvement in its stock portfolio and a decline in bad loans.

The benchmark Nikkei was down 0.5 percent at 9,900.74, after falling as low as 9,867.39, its lowest since Dec. 10.

The broader Topix retreated 0.5 percent to 878.54.

Seoul shares rebounded on Tuesday, with Kumho Asiana Group issues jumping after creditors pledged to support South Korea’s cash-starved No.9 conglomerate, but gains were limited amid deepening eurozone debt worries.

The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) was up 0.14 percent to 1,554.92 points.

Gains in Kumho Asiana Group firms lent markets support, with Kumho Industrial and Kumho Petrochemical both spiking by the 15 percent daily limit after creditors pledged to support the group, quelling speculation Kumho Industrial could be put into court receivership.

Financials also rebounded after sharp falls in the previous session on worries about their exposure to Kumho Asiana Group. KB Financial Group, the holding firm of South Korea’s top commercial lender Kookmin Bank, advanced 3.16 percent and Shinhan Financial Group was up 3.15 percent.

Australian stocks fell 0.7 percent, after a luke-warm trading update from Macquarie Group and wider investor concerns about sovereign debt troubles in the euro zone.

Macquarie, the country’s top investment bank, was the market’s biggest loser, sliding 6.1 percent after saying that equity capital markets and its credit market business were not as strong as they were in the first half of its financial year.

The major banks all fell more than 1 percent, with Westpac Banking worst hit, dropping 1.9 percent to A$22.81.

The S&P/ASX 200 index [AU;XJO  4502.1 -19.255  (-0.43%)] was down 33.05 points at 4,488.3, wiping out Monday’s small gain.

On the positive side, upmarket department store chain David Jones and bionic ear maker Cochlear rose after giving upbeat outlooks.

Greater China shares opened higher, ending a losing streak as surging commodity prices limited losses. The Hang Seng Index climbed 0.5 percent, or 91.70 points to 19,642.59, while the Shanghai Composite gained 0.5 percent, or 15.49 points to 2,951.429.

Jiangxi Copper rose 2.89 percent after copper prices rose on Monday, bouncing off a 3-½   month low amid bargain-hunting and a weaker dollar.

China’s top offshore oil producer CNOOC rose as much 2.1 percent after its partner Husky Energy said on Monday that it had made another big gas find off the coast of China, its third major discovery in the region.

China First Heavy Industries dipped 2 percent on its first day of trade in Shanghai after raising $1.67 billion in China’s biggest IPO this year, continuing a string of weak market debuts as investors remained wary over a fattening pipeline of new listings.

Singapore’s Straits Times Index was unchanged at 2,693.04. SingTel climbed 2 percent after Southeast Asia’s biggest telecoms firm reported an 18 percent rise in quarterly profit, roughly in line with market expectations and driven by strong growth in regional mobile customers.

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