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Asian markets mixed amid Spain debt woes

October 03, 2012

HONG KONG, Oct 2: Asian markets were mixed on Tuesday as early gains caused by better-than-expected manufacturing data from the United States which were overshadowed by lingering concerns over Spain’s debt woes.

But the US figures, which followed minor improvements in Asian and European activity, boosted the dollar and euro against the yen, lifting Japanese stocks, while Sydney climbed after Australia’s central bank cut interest rates. Tokyo ended 0.12 per cent lower, shedding 10.46 points to 8,786.05, Seoul closed flat, dipping 0.18 points to 1,996.03 and Sydney jumped 1.01 per cent, or 44.4 points, to 4,433.0.

Taipei rose 0.56 per cent, or 42.96 points, to 7,718.68. Hong Kong, Shanghai and Mumbai were closed for public holidays.

Traders took their lead from Wall Street, which ended broadly higher after the Institute for Supply Management said its Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) edged up to 51.5 last month from 49.6 in August — representing the first expansion after three months of contraction.

A reading above 50 indicates growth and anything below represents shrinkage.

On Monday China said its own PMI was at 49.8 in September, which while still negative represented a modest improvement on 49.2 in August. And a European PMI reading by a research firm came in at 46.1, up from 45.1. The CLSA equity strategist Nicholas Smith said that the figures appeared to show “that the general picture is for a turnaround in global markets”.

At the close of trade on Wall Street on Monday the Dow added 0.58 per cent and the S&P 500 rose 0.27 per cent while the Nasdaq was flat. On currency markets, the dollar stood at 78.21 yen in European trade on Tuesday, from 77.98 yen in New York late on Monday.

The euro was at $1.2914 and 101.03 yen, compared with $1.2887 and 100.51 yen in New York. However, Europe continues to cast a pall as dealers await a decision from Spain on asking for a bailout to prop up its struggling economy.

Madrid unveiled a tough austerity budget last week that many expect to have been a precursor to a rescue request, but the country’s prime minister has so far held off until he knows the full conditions that would be imposed. Adding to concerns, ratings agency Moody’s warned it might downgrade Spain’s debt to junk status when it makes a decision on the country in the next few days.

In Sydney, shares extended their morning gains after the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) said it would cut interest rates 25 basis points to 3.25 per cent, their lowest level since October 2009. The bank said it was concerned about a slowdown in the global economy, and the decision sent the Australian dollar down against its US counterpart.

The Aussie slipped to US$1.0305 from US$1.0369.

“The cut will be a welcome relief for our domestic economy that has been struggling with a stubbornly high Aussie dollar, falling commodity prices and cuts to mining investment plans,” said Ben Taylor, a sales trader at CMC Markets.

“The RBA is hoping that a reduced rate will shield us from a slowing China and the European debt crisis whilst keeping our domestic growth robust,” he told Dow Jones Newswires.

Oil prices were mixed in afternoon trade. New York’s main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in November, added 27 cents to $92.75 a barrel and Brent North Sea crude for November delivery shed two cents to $112.17.

Gold was at $1,779.60 at 1000 GMT compared with $1,770.50 on Monday.

In other markets: Singapore closed up 0.70 per cent, or 21.28 points, at 3,079.14. Keppel Corp. gained 0.44 per cent to Sg$11.49 and Singapore Airlines added 0.56 per cent to Sg$10.77.

Manila closed 0.76 per cent higher, adding 40.16 points to 5,348.68. Philippine Long Distance Telephone was unchanged at 2,760 pesos while Ayala Corp. rose 0.23 per cent to 420 pesos. Banco de Oro Unibank rose 2.09 per cent to 65.90 pesos.

Wellington rose 1.08 per cent, or 41.22 points, to 3,871.25. Fletcher Building gained 1.4 per cent to NZ$7.16 and Mainfreight was up 1.2 per cent at NZ$10.39. Air New Zealand closed at a 19-month high, adding 2.1 per cent to NZ$1.21.

Jakarta gained 0.48 per cent, or 20.55 points, to 4,256.84.

Kuala Lumpur rose 0.47 per cent, or 7.72 points, to 1,651.03. UEM Land Holdings added 3.5 per cent to 1.78 ringgit, while Genting Malaysia rose 2.5 per cent to 3.68 ringgit. Sime Darby lost 0.6 per cent to 9.74 ringgit.

Bangkok rose 0.46 per cent, or 5.95 points, to 1,305.66. Mobile telephone giant Advanced Info Service dropped 0.93 per cent to 212 baht, while retailer Siam Makro added 3.54 per cent to 410 baht. —AFP