News Column

Asia stocks follow Wall St. higher

February 25, 2014

Japanese stocks led Asia higher on Tuesday, with the Nikkei rising above the 15,000 mark, while Australian stocks hit their highest level since June 2008.

Japan's Nikkei 225 index moved ahead 213.92 points, or 1.4%, to 15,051.60, while the U.S. dollar remained steady against the yen at 102.49.

The Hang Seng Index in Hong Kong fell 71.36 points, or 0.3%, to 22,317.20

The region took its lead from the U.S., where the S&P 500 notched a record high in intraday trade overnight. Much of Asia however, remains in the red for 2014, with Australia among the few markets in positive territory.

In addition, Asia was recovering from a broadly weaker session on Monday, brought about by renewed concerns over China's property market, due to news reports claiming that a bank had stopped lending to property developers.

It was another busy day in terms of corporate earnings, and the largest company in focus was HSBC Holdings, with its stock losing 2.7% in Hong Kong after the lender's results missed estimates.

The bank said that lower revenue and higher operating costs weighed on profit growth last year, adding to concerns about the bank's prospects this year as some of its key markets cool. As the single-largest constituent on the Hang Seng Index, the bank's fall capped gained for Hong Kong's headline index.

Shares in Atlas Iron started the day higher but were last down 1.2% as profit-taking took hold after the miner announced that it had swung to a profit in its first fiscal half, adding that it has the ability to increase returns for shareholders as it closes on completing the aggressive expansion of its Australian mines.

Also in Sydney, health care services provider Ramsay Health Care jumped 6.5% after the company reported 10% revenue growth in the first half, beating expectations, due to strong market conditions and facility expansions.

In other markets;

The Shanghai CSI 300 Index erased 56.60 points, or 2.6%, to 2,157.91

Taiwan's Taiex Index recovered 15.01 points, or 0.2%, to 8,575.62

Singapore's Straits Times Index lost 2.22 points to 3,103.62

Korea's Kospi Index regained 15.81 points, or 0.8%, to 1,964.86.

The New Zealand Exchange 50 index docked 2.13 points to 4,967.51

In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 doffed 6.38 points, or 0.1%, to 5,433.84

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Source: Baystreet Foreign Markets Wrap (Canada)

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