Strong Intel Earnings Lift Asian Tech Stocks

Asian stock markets were trading mixed on Friday, with technology shares gaining after Intel Corp [INTC  21.46  0.50  (+2.39%)   ] reported a quarterly profit that beat expectations, underscoring hopes for a 2010 tech sector recovery.

Japan’s Nikkei Average [JP;N225  10889.32  -18.3594  (-0.17%)   ] hit a 15-month high on Friday. Japan is home to many chip equipment makers and their stocks gained after Intel’s earnings. Chip-tester maker Advantest Corp climbed 2.6 percent to 2,554 yen and Tokyo Electron gained 2.4 percent to 6,050 yen. Nikon, a maker of steppers, climbed 2.4 percent to 2,097 yen.

Japanese cosmetics giant Shiseido jumped 6 percent after it said it would buy California-based beauty products firm Bare Escentuals shares for $1.7 billion.

Energy-related stocks declined after oil prices fell for the fifth day running on Friday as weak U.S. economic data such as retail sales raised concerns about a recovery in demand in the
world’s biggest oil-consuming market.

Refiners Nippon Oil slipped 0.4 percent to 449 yen and Nippon Mining Holdings retreated 0.5 percent to 416 yen.

The Nikkei rose 0.5 percent to 10,956.95, after climbing as high as 10,961.57, its highest since October 2008. The broader Topix gained 0.6 percent to 965.11.

Seoul shares rose, led by techs, but POSCO retreated after its quarterly  results, while Daewoo International  rallied after POSCO’s CEO reaffirmed its interest in buying the energy  developer.

Shares in POSCO were down 0.34 percent to 590,000 won, and Daewoo International climbed 3.55 percent to 37,900 won. Daewoo Shipbuilding jumped 9.6 percent.

The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) was up 0.39 percent at 1,692.39 points.

Australian stocks fell 0.7 percent, as a dip in banks offset modest gains on Wall Street, but conglomerate CSR edged up after knocking back a Chinese takeover offer.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index [AU;XJO  4861.9  -36.138  (-0.74%)   ] retreated 0.7 percent to 4,866.1, after rising 0.6 percent on Thursday.

Shares in CSR gained 0.25 percent to A$1.985 after the company rejected a $1.4 billion takeover proposal from China’s state-owned Bright Food Group for its sugar business, saying it preferred to stick to its initial demerger plan.

“They have to prove the benefits of a demerger,” said Spiteri. “They haven’t had a lot of success managing their divisions themselves. There would be a lot of shareholders in favor of a take-out of those assets.”

Shares in Macarthur Coal dropped 3.4 percent to A$11.15 after the producer said it expects profit in the six months to December in a range between A$37 million-A$42 million ($34.5-$39.1 million).

Shopping mall owner Westfield Group slipped 0.2 percent to A$12.53 after a surprising drop in the U.S. December retail sales.

Banking stocks were weaker, with declines of 0.7 percent to 0.9 percent, led lower by Westpac Banking Corp down 0.9 percent to A$25.16.

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