Asian Markets Weekly Review: India's Sensex Leads While Korea's Kospi Trails

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By m rochan | December 8, 2013 2:32 AM EST

Passers-by walk past a stock quotation board outside a brokerage in Tokyo on 4 December, 2013 (Reuters).

Asian stock markets outside Shanghai and Mumbai finished the week lower, India's BSE Sensex leading the pack and South Korea's Kospi trailing.

Most Asian markets traded lower at the beginning of the week. In Shanghai, news that Beijing would revoke the year-long freeze on stock market listings weighed down on the benchmark index. Experts said the addition of new shares could siphon off liquidity from shares that are being traded.

However, the news led to a rally in financial stocks as market players bet that IPO reforms would boost fees for brokerages and improve banks' funding.

Meanwhile, data from China showed that factory activity in the world's second-largest economy expanded in November.

Cautious trade prevailed in Sydney, where market players awaited the Reserve Bank of Australia's interest rate decision.

South Korea's benchmark index reversed early gains on the back of mixed economic data. Factory activity in Korea hit a six-month high in November, but inflation stayed below the 1% level for a third successive month.

Elsewhere, Thailand's benchmark SET Index lost over 1% and the Thai baht dropped to a three-month low of 32.26 to the US dollar, pulled down by anti-government protests.

In company news, New Zealand's Fonterra Cooperative said French dairy group Danone could sue it over the wide-ranging recall of infant formula containing a potentially contaminated Fonterra ingredient.

Japanese equities finished on a six-year high on 3 December, on the back of supportive comments from Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda. Elsewhere in Asia, most indices traded lower amid fears of a reduction in Fed stimulus.

Kuroda sparked speculation of an increase in the central bank's $70bn-a-month bond-buying stimulus after he said: "We are ready to adjust monetary policy without hesitation if risks materialise."

Thailand's consumer confidence dropped to a 22-month low in November amid the movement to topple Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.

Meanwhile, China said it would challenge the United States' accusations, that it had flooded the US market with cheap exports, at the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

Goldman Sachs forecast that the Hang Seng China Enterprises Index would shoot up by about 19% to 13,600 by the end of 2014.

In Sydney, the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) left its cash rate unchanged at a record low 2.5%. Market players also took in mixed economic data - Australia's current account deficit widened in the July-September quarter from the preceding quarter, while October retail sales beat estimates.

The Australian dollar shed 0.4% to $0.9062 against the greenback after RBA Governor Glenn Stevens said the currency remained "uncomfortably high." "The Australian dollar, while below its level earlier in the year, is still uncomfortably high. A lower level of the exchange rate is likely to be needed to achieve balanced growth in the economy", Stevens said in a statement.

Most Asian markets traded lower on 4 December. Japanese equities were pulled down after the yen strengthened against the US dollar.

In Bangkok, Prime Minister Shinawatra appointed an open academic forum to find a way out of the political stalemate, suggesting that the recent anti-government protests may soon come to an end.

In Seoul, the benchmark index traded lower even after central bank data showed that the nation's foreign reserves shot up to $345.01bn at the end of November, up $1.79bn dollars from October.

In Sydney, the benchmark index finished slightly higher despite downbeat growth data.

Meanwhile, in Shanghai, the benchmark index rose to its highest levels since mid-September on news that Beijing would roll out financial liberalisation reforms in the Shanghai free trade zone (FTZ) within three months. PBOC Shanghai chief Zhang Xin said reforms would be unveiled within three months, appraised after six months and formal policies would be fully implemented within a year.

The bulk of all Asian markets traded lower on 5 December as market players awaited the release of central bank decisions in Europe and economic data from the US.

However, in Mumbai, the rupee rose to a five-week high to the US dollar and equities gained after exit polls forecast a strong showing for the main opposition party, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), in recent state elections. Investors perceive the BJP to be a more business-friendly political party.

In Sydney, the benchmark index dropped to a seven-week closing low, pulled down by downbeat trade deficit data. In Seoul, equities ended lower despite upbeat growth data.

In company news, South Korean regulator the Financial Supervisory Service (FSS) informed Goldman Sachs that its South Korean unit could face regulatory action for potential violation of domestic capital markets rules.

Asian markets witnessed mixed trade on 6 December as the focus turned to US data for hints as to the future pace of the Fed's asset buys.

In Tokyo, news that the Japanese government had approved a $182bn economic package pushed up investor sentiment.

The Bank of Japan (BoJ) and Goldman Sachs both asked Japanese business leaders to increase wages, with the investment banking major warning that wages ought to increase for "Abenomics" to succeed.

In company news, the Standard Chartered stock price dropped 2.76% to HK$169.30 in Hong Kong, its lowest in five months, following news that 647 wealthy clients' confidential bank statements were stolen in Singapore, from a printing company.

Market Movements

India's S&P BSE Sensex finished 2.25% higher at 20,996.53.

The Shanghai Composite index ended 1.68% higher at 2,237.11.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng ended 0.54% lower at 23,743.10.

The Japanese Nikkei index ended 2.16% lower at 15,299.86.

Australia's S&P/ASX 200 finished 2.62% lower at 5,186.00.

South Korea's Kospi finished 2.92% lower at 1,980.41.

The Week Ahead

Emerging market indices, such as India's BSE Sensex, could draw support from the historic WTO Bali agreement.

The landmark Bali package liberalises global commerce. The pact promises to cut red tape at customs the world over, provides better terms of trade to developing countries and permits emerging economies to dodge WTO rules on farm subsidies provided they try to feed the poor.

Market participants will be tracking third-quarter growth data coming in from Japan.

The Japanese government will release machine tools orders data for the month of November, alongside trade balance, industrial production, and machinery orders data for the month of October.

China will put out inflation data and trade balance data for November. The Chinese government will also release industrial production, retail sales and urban investment data.

Australia will put out labour market data for the month of November, alongside home loan disbursal figures for October.

Market players will also be tracking the results of National Australia Bank's November business confidence survey.

New Zealand will release business PMI data for November.

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