Sunday, March 23, 2008

Nothing to say

(Pix courtesy of Mat Kayangan)

Most Asian financial markets rose in thin holiday trading Friday after a turbulent week. Japanese shares were buoyed by gains in property developers and financial issues. The Nikkei 225 index climbed 222.13 points, or 1.81%, to close at 12,482.57.

South Korean shares extended their winning streak into a fourth session amid easing concerns about global inflation after commodities prices declined. The Korea Composite Stock Price Index, or Kospi, added 22.30 points, or 1.4%, to 1,645.69.

Trade was also subdued because many markets in Asia, Europe and the Americas were closed for Good Friday. Regional markets that were off included Hong Kong, Australia, India, Indonesia, New Zealand, the Philippines and Singapore.

It was a quiet end to a week that began with global markets plunging on news that JPMorgan Chase would buy troubled U.S. investment bank Bear Stearns, which had been battered by the subprime mortgage crisis.

Asian markets rebounded Wednesday after the U.S. Federal Reserve cut rates by a hefty three-quarters%age point, sparking a huge rally on Wall Street.

Worries linger about the outlook for the American economy and much of Friday's gains in Tokyo were from a short-term adjustments.
In Thailand, the key index rose 0.7%, while Malaysia's market inched up 0.2%.

Chinese stocks were mixed, with the benchmark Shanghai Composite Index edging lower as market heavyweight PetroChina fell 4%, outweighing gains in steel makers.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index fell 0.2%, or 7.47 points, to 3,796.58. The smaller Shenzhen Composite Index rose 1.4% to 1,173.14.

The Shanghai index was up over 2% at one point yesterday afternoon after plunging more than 6% in mid-morning, a sign that institutional investors were already beginning to bargain hunt.

In currencies, the dollar was trading at Y99.60 at midafternoon, down from Y100.00 late Thursday in New York. The euro rose to $1.5444 from $1.5433.

In Asia, markets in Australia, Hong Kong and New Zealand will remain closed Monday.

On Friday KLCI ended +0.2% at 1189.06 in razor-thin volume. Late buying interest from local government funds on government-linked stocks helped offset retail investor sell-down, subdued trading interest also due to Easter holiday closure in some regional markets. Market breadth ended negative with losers outpacing advancers 376 to 285. Index tipped to trade in 1170 to 1200 (psychological resistance) but government funds may lend support in view of country's annual investor conference next week. The market may be propped up to make it pretty for fund managers to look at and it will be interesting to hear the PM speak amid the unfolding political drama, which may drag on for some months.


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