Asian Shares Buoyed By US Earnings 01/24 05:58
Asian stocks were mostly higher on Thursday as positive U.S. earnings
reports reassured investors that the world's largest economy was on track.
SINGAPORE (AP) -- Asian stocks were mostly higher on Thursday as positive
U.S. earnings reports reassured investors that the world's largest economy was
on track. Comments by a top Chinese official buoyed trading too, but poor
Japanese data for the second straight day weighed on the Nikkei 225 index.
KEEPING SCORE: The Shanghai Composite index gained 0.4 percent to 2,592.40
and South Korea's Kospi rose 0.8 percent to 2,145.03. Hong Kong's Hang Seng
picked up 0.3 percent to 27,080.39. Australia's S&P ASX 200 added 0.4 percent
to 5,865.70. Japan's Nikkei 225 index declined 0.1 percent to 20,574.63. Shares
rose in Taiwan, Thailand and Singapore but fell in Malaysia.
WALL STREET: Strong quarterly earnings by big companies like IBM, Proctor &
Gamble and United Technologies helped most U.S. indexes finish Wednesday with
slight gains. IBM stocks surged 8.5 percent to $132.89 after its fourth-quarter
results exceeded expectations. But traders were worried about reports that the
U.S. had turned down an offer by Chinese trade officials to meet in Washington
this week, citing the lack of progress on issues like intellectual property
rights. White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow denied it. The S&P 500 index
added 0.2 percent to 2,638.70. The Dow Jones Industrial Average advanced 0.7
percent to 24,575.62 and the Nasdaq composite gained 0.1 percent to 7,025.77.
The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks dipped 0.2 percent to 1,454.26.
JAPAN PMI: On Thursday, a private survey suggested that Japanese
manufacturing had slowed in January. The Markit/JMMA flash purchasing managers'
index fell to 50.0 from December's 52.6. Readings above 50 indicate expansion
on the index's 100-point scale. The survey found that key output and new orders
contracted while exports slumped further. Just a day ago, Japan released
weaker-than-expected trade data for December, with exports registering its
largest drop in two years, mostly due slowing demand in China.
CHINA TALK: Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan took aim at the U.S. in
pointed comments at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Wang said
that "Shifting blame for one's own problems onto others will not resolve the
problems," alluding to a trade war with Washington that has both sides imposing
heavy taxes on each other's imports. Wang said China still has "enormous market
potential" despite its recent worse-than-anticipated slowdown.
ANALYST'S TAKE: "Major Asia-Pacific indices are fluctuating around the
session breakeven point, reflecting the ongoing global debate about growth
prospects," Michael McCarthy, Chief Market Strategist at CMC Markets in Sydney,
said in an interview.
ENERGY: U.S. crude oil dropped 26 cents to $52.36 per barrel in electronic
trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract shed 39 cents to
$52.62 per barrel on Wednesday. Brent crude, used to price international oils,
shed 32 cents to $60.82 per barrel. It lost 36 cents to $61.14 in London.
CURRENCIES: The dollar strengthened to 109.68 yen from 109.61 yen late
Wednesday. The euro rose to $1.1383 from $1.1381.