Asian Markets Gain as Japanese Exports Drop

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By Prasanth Aby Thomas | November 21, 2012 3:24 PM EST

A visitor looks at market indices displayed at the Tokyo Stock Exchange in Tokyo (Reuters)

Most Asian markets have steadied in the morning session amid US and eurozone economic concerns, while disappointing Japanese export data weakened the Yen further. 

Japan's Nikkei was up 1.02 percent or 93.21 points to 9235.85 at 03:14 GMT while South Korea's KOSPI traded 0.15 percent or 2.78 points higher to 1892.96.

China's Shanghai Composite Index slipped 0.07 percent or 1.33 points to 2007.59. Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 0.69 percent or 145.47 points to 21373.75.

Concerns on the US 'fiscal cliff' remained in focus after the Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke reiterated fears that a failure to avert the potential fiscal crisis could push the country into recession. But investors were optimistic after official data from the world's largest economy showed that housing starts gained 3.6 percent in October, the highest level in four years, adding to hopes of recovery in the sector.

Markets are keeping a close watch on eurozone as the region's finance ministers consider unlocking further bailout funds to Athens. Greece's debt woes continued after a document drafted for the ministers reportedly showed that the country will not be able to reduce its debt to IMF stipulated standards without some of the loans being written off.

The Yen weakened against the Dollar after official data showed that Japan's exports dropped for the fifth straight month in October, marred by the territorial dispute with China and the slowing global economy. The country's total shipments dropped 6.5 percent in the month, more than the estimated 4.9 percent.  Exports to China tumbled 11.6 percent.

The latest data is expected to underscore fears that Japan may be easing into recession and put further pressure on authorities to aid the economy. Earlier, the Bank of Japan had left its monetary policy unchanged.

Major Movers

Exporters gained in Tokyo. Mazda Motor Corporation gained 5.88 percent while Honda Motor Company was up 2.99 percent. Shares of Mitsubishi Motors Corporation traded 2.78 percent higher.  

Samsung Pharmaceutical Industrial Company and apparel maker Avista were the major gainers in Seoul, up 15 and 14.85 percent.

In Hong Kong, Mobile carrier Tencent Holdings was up 1.19 percent and property major New World Development Company, which gained 0.50 percent were the top gainers.  

Pharmaceutical firm Nanjing Pharmaceutical Company and retailer Beijing Wangfujing Department Store Group Company traded lowest in China, down 9.84 and 5.59 percent respectively. 

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