News Column

Asia mixed on property concerns

February 24, 2014

Chinese stocks fell on Monday amid concerns over the property market, while Japan and Australia edged higher during a mixed session for Asia.

Japan's Nikkei 225 index faded 27.99 points, or 0.2%, to 14,836.68, with the U.S. dollar last at 102.52, compared with 102.48 late Friday in New York.

Tokyo was adding to strong gains from last week, with the index up 3.9% over the previous five sessions--its first weekly gain in 2014. The market was boosted by a surprise Bank of Japan announcement last week to increase incentives designed to lift bank lending.

The exchange rate between the dollar and the yen could be impacted later in the week by a string of upcoming U.S. economic indicators--such as January new home sales and durable goods orders, as well as revised fourth-quarter gross domestic product figures.

The Hang Seng Index in Hong Kong fell 179.68 points, or 0.8%, to 22,388.56

Away from China, the main economic news over the weekend came from Australia, where G-20 officials ended a summit saying that they would look to boost global growth by more than $2 trillion U.S. over the next few years under a strategy crafted by the International Monetary Fund.

Under the plan, advanced economies would continue to implement easy money policies, while emerging markets would work to restructure their economies and keep inflation at bay.

Australia's S&P/ASX 200 was up only slightly as the market gave up its gains from early in the session after Chinese markets opened weak.

In addition, a number of major stocks going ex-dividend also weighed on the market -- meaning new buyers of stock will no longer receive the next dividend. Retailer Wesfarmers lost 2.7% and Telstra Corp. was 2.4% lower.


The Shanghai CSI 300 Index deducted 49.78 points, or 2.2%, to 2,214.51

Chinese local media reported that a medium-sized bank has tightened its financing to property developers. As a result, large property developers fell sharply, with China Vanke Co. sinking 5.9% in Shenzhen and Gemdale Corporation plunging 5.5% in Shanghai.

In other markets;

Taiwan's Taiex Index subtracted 41.25 points, or 0.5%, to 8,560.61

Singapore's Straits Times Index tacked on 5.91 points, or 0.2%, to 3,105.84

Korea's Kospi Index dipped 8.78 points, or 0.5%, to 1,949.05.

The New Zealand Exchange 50 index progressed 42.01 points, or 0.9%, to 4,969.65

In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 inched up 1.52 points to 5,440.22

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Source: Baystreet Foreign Markets Wrap (Canada)

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