Asia shares rise on US job market

Most Asian shares rose Friday after Wall Street posted gains on the heels of an improving job market and higher corporate earnings as investors closely monitored developments at a quake-stricken nuclear power plant in Japan.

The Nikkei 225 in Tokyo was up 0.7 percent to 9,496.00 with automakers rising following recent losses. Japan is grappling with radiation leaks from a crippled nuclear plant and power shortages following the March 11 earthquake and tsunami that devastated its northeastern coast.

Nissan Motor Co., which lost nearly 5 percent Thursday after saying it may move some engine production to the U.S. because of earthquake damage to a Japanese plant, was up 1.2 percent. Toyota Motor Corp., the world’s largest automaker, rose 0.8 percent after being pummeled in prior trading sessions.

Investors pushed up several construction-linked shares, expecting those companies to benefit once Japan begins rebuilding. Komatsu Ltd. rose 3.9 percent a day after announcing that production was resuming in quake-affected areas. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. was up 1.7 percent.

Consumer electronics companies also clawed back recent losses with Sony Corp. up 2.8 percent, and Panasonic Corp. up 1.8 percent.

Analysts believe that a coordinated currency intervention earlier this month by the world’s top seven industrialized nations aided Japan’s exporters by keeping the yen stable.

“There’s been a strong rebound in markets after a very savage sell-off after the disasters in Japan,” said Tim Schroeders, who helps manage $1 billion at Pengana Capital Ltd. in Melbourne.

Markets were reassured by the central bank intervention that stabilized the yen, he said. The yen hit a record high against the dollar in the days following the quake.

“A level of confidence has been maintained in financial markets during an extremely volatile time,” Schroeders said.

Still, Japan continued to grapple with an avalanche of post-quake miseries, including its ravaged Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant. Two weeks after the disaster, officials were still struggling to stop radiation leaks that have already seeped into the air and water.

While a complete nuclear meltdown was avoided, Japanese companies still face a myriad of challenges in resuming normal output: rolling electricity blackouts, the possibility of aftershocks, anxiety over elevated levels of radiation, and restrictions on Japanese food products from the region affected by radiation.

“Given the host of unprecedented issues, including ongoing nuclear plant problems, a power shortfall, and supply chain bottlenecks, we think the market will continue to be highly volatile,” said Citigroup Global Markets said in a report.

Elsewhere, the Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index rose 0.9 percent to 23,127.47 and South Korea’s Kospi moved 0.8 percent higher to 2,053.26, with investors snapping up high-tech shares. Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. jumped 3.3 percent, Hynix Semiconductor Inc. was up 2.1 percent, and LG Electronics rose 1 percent.

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.7 percent to 4,733.70. Among gainers was Rio Tinto Ltd., up 0.5 percent., while shares of mining giant BHP Billiton Ltd. slipped 0.2 percent after it announced a nearly $10 billion expansion to its iron ore and coal operations.

On Wall Street late Thursday, stronger corporate earnings and signs of a stronger job market lifted stocks. The U.S. government said fewer people applied for unemployment benefits last week, evidence that layoffs are slowing. The average number of unemployment filings over the last four weeks has dropped to its lowest level since July 2008.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 84.54 points to close at 12,170.56. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 12.12 to 1,309.66. The Nasdaq composite index rose 38.12 points to 2,736.42.

Oil prices were up 9 cents to $105.69 a barrel as upheaval in the Middle East and signs of strong global demand kept crude near two-year highs. Benchmark crude for May delivery fell 15 cents to settle at $105.60 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange on Thursday.

In currencies, the euro dropped to $1.4167 from $1.4183 late Thursday. The dollar edged up to 80.98 yen from 80.95 yen.
Source: AP

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.