Asian stocks end higher after U.S. jobs report

April 5, 2011 - 0:0

Asian stock markets closed mostly higher on Monday after upbeat U.S. jobs data released over the weekend signaled the economic recovery is strengthening. A steadily weakening yen helped key exporters in Japan, while mergers and acquisition activity boosted Australian copper mining stocks. However, the gains were modest due to speculation surrounding the U.S. Federal Reserve's next policy move.

In Japan, the benchmark Nikkei index edged up 0.11 percent, helped by optimism over the yen's ongoing slide against the dollar and euro and Friday's stronger-than-expected U.S. jobs report. The broader Topix index, however, ended down 0.3 percent, with 24 of its 33 sub-indexes closing in the red, as investors began assessing the impact of the devastating March 11 earthquake on corporate earnings.
Exporter shares such as Advantest Corp (up 1.40 percent) and Fanuc (up 1.3 percent) were among the prominent gainers. Fast Retailing climbed 3.37 percent on a brokerage upgrade. IHI Corp soared nearly 4 percent after the heavy electric machinery maker said it formed a sales partnership for industrial-use compressors with Swedish company Atlas Copco. Sony fell 1.2 percent on a brokerage downgrade.
The Australian market closed higher for the fifth straight session, with mining stocks leading the gainers, driven by news on the merger and acquisition front. The benchmark S&P/ASX200 rose about half a percent while the broader All Ordinaries index added 0.61 percent.
Rio Tinto firmed up by 0.77 percent after a report in the Financial Times claimed that Chinalco, the Chinese aluminum group, has no plans to reduce its stake in the Australian miner. Rival BHP Billiton edged up 0.43 percent. Shares in Equinox climbed 29 percent after a $6.5 billion takeover offer from China's Minmetals Resources. Big banks such as Westpac, Commonwealth and ANZ closed lower, limiting the upside.
South Korea's KOSPI average finished 0.24 percent lower, dragged lower by falls in refiners on worries that price cuts could affect their second-quarter profits. SK Innovation Co., South Korea's biggest oil refiner, said yesterday that it would cut gasoline and diesel prices by 100 won a liter in its nationwide gas stations for three months, starting April. Smaller rivals are also expected to announce price cuts to help government efforts to tame inflation.
New Zealand's benchmark NZX-50 rose 0.21 percent, extending its rally for a 14th consecutive session, buoyed by a positive lead from Wall Street. New Zealand Oil & Gas (up 3.26 percent) led the gainers backed by a sharp spike in global crude prices.
(Source: RTTNews)