Asian stocks advance; have best monthly streak in 20 years

August 1, 2007 - 0:0

HONG KONG (Bloomberg) -- Asian stocks rose as higher earnings from Olympus Corp. and Hang Seng Bank Ltd. helped the region's benchmark post its longest monthly winning streak in 20 years.

BHP Billiton Ltd. led gains by mining companies on speculation profits will climb along with metals prices. Disappointing earnings from Kyocera Corp. and Kookmin Bank limited Tuesday's advance.
“The market is completely focused on earnings,” said Yoshihisa Okamoto, a Tokyo-based fund manager at Mizuho Asset Management Co. with $26 billion in assets. “Investors are getting away from companies with disappointing earnings and switching into ones that exceeded expectations.”
The Morgan Stanley Capital International Asia Pacific Index added 0.5 percent to 155.95 at 6:17 p.m. in Tokyo. It has climbed 2 percent this month, its 10th straight monthly advance. That's the longest series of gains according to historical data on the index stretching back to January 1988.
U.S. stocks Monday rebounded from the worst two-day skid since 2003 after Wall Street's biggest securities firms said the sell-off made homebuilders, banks, and retailers cheap.
Shares tumbled last week, wiping $2.1 trillion off global benchmarks, on concern higher borrowing costs will slow takeovers, spur defaults and curb earnings.
Taiwan's TAIEX Index jumped 2.4 percent, Asia's biggest gain. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index rose 2 percent. Japan's Nikkei 225 Stock Average slipped 0.2 percent while the TOPIX index was little changed with most Japanese shares gaining. Measures in New Zealand and Thailand fell.
-------------- Best earnings performance?
Asian shares have climbed in the past 10 months amid expectations earnings at companies in regional emerging markets such as China and India will surpass the rest of the world. MSCI's Asian index climbed 22 percent in that time, beating the MSCI World index's 15 percent gain.
Olympus, the world's biggest maker of endoscopes, advanced 6.1 percent to 4,910 yen. The company said first-quarter profit more than doubled to 17.6 billion yen ($148 million) from a year earlier, buoyed by a weaker yen and higher sales of medical equipment. Olympus raised its net income forecast by 10 percent.
Shinsei Bank Ltd. jumped 6.4 percent to 448 yen. The first Japanese bank bought by overseas investors said first-quarter net income surged 63 percent on increased lending and fees.
Hang Seng Bank, Hong Kong's second-largest lender by assets, gained 9.8 percent to HK$124, the biggest gain since October 1998. The company said first-half profit rose 43 percent, exceeding some analysts' predictions, on growth in lending, stock-trading fees and a one-time gain.
------------ HSBC
The lender's share-price target was raised at brokerages including Morgan Stanley and Citigroup Inc. after the earnings.
HSBC Holdings Plc, Hang Seng Bank's parent and Europe's largest bank, added 2.1 percent to HK$144.30. The company said first-half profit rose 25 percent, also more than some analysts expected, as investment gains in China overcame rising costs from bad mortgage loans in the U.S.
“Generally, earnings in Asia are supportive,” said Henry Chan, who helps oversee more than $10 billion of equities in Hong Kong as Baring Asset Management (Asia) Ltd.'s head of Asian investments. “To really see some significant growth you'll have to look at specific companies or themes.” He favors Chinese infrastructure and machinery stocks.
------------ “Margin compression”
Singapore's CapitaLand Ltd., Southeast Asia's largest developer, gained 4.1 percent to S$7.55. The company said second-quarter profit rose fivefold to a record as it sold more homes in Singapore and China and the value of assets surged.
Kyocera, a maker of mobile phones for KDDI Corp., fell 6.3 percent to 11,500 yen, contributing most to the Nikkei's decline. The company said Monday profit in its components business fell 8.4 percent because of lower prices and oversupply.
Kookmin, South Korea's largest bank slid 3.3 percent to 80,200 won. The company said second-quarter profit slumped 70 percent because of back taxes related to the 2003 takeover of its credit-card unit. Net interest margin, or the percentage of income to interest-bearing assets, fell to 3.48 percent in the period from 3.6 percent in the previous quarter.
“The bank's margin compression was much worse than our expectation and its peer banks,” Ha Sun Mok, an analyst at Credit Suisse Group, wrote in a report.
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BHP, the world's largest mining company, added 0.6 percent to A$37. Zinifex Ltd., the world's No. 3 zinc producer, jumped 3.4 percent to A$19.91. Jiangxi Copper Co., China's second-biggest producer of the metal, rose 1.8 percent to HK$15.02 in Hong Kong. Zijin Mining Group Co., which runs China's largest gold mine, climbed 3.4 percent to HK$6.10.
Copper futures in New York Monday added 1.2 percent, the biggest gain since July 20. Gold rose 0.6 percent, ending a three-day decline. A measure of six metals including copper and nickel traded on the London Metal Exchange rose 0.5 percent.
Taiwan's Quanta Computer Inc., the world's largest maker of notebook computers, jumped 3.5 percent to NT$53.70. The company will likely regain an order from Japan's Toshiba to make notebook computers after losing the contract last year, the Apple Daily reported, without citing anyone.
The TAIEX Index also rose as investors judged a four-day, 6.9 percent slump excessive. The Commercial Times reported the stock market regulator as saying the island's mutual funds may invest NT$100 billion ($3 billion) in domestic shares in the second half