Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Asian Markets Rise After Goldman, Intel Earns

. Wednesday, July 15, 2009

By stockOzone team

Asian stock markets rose for a second day Wednesday, underpinned by better-than-expected U.S. earnings and optimism the regional economy is on the mend.

Gains across the region were broad-based as recent pessimism about economic recovery gave way to relief that the U.S. corporate earnings season hasn't produced any big disappointments so far.

Investors have been focusing on earnings for clues about the state of the world's largest economy, currently mired in its deepest recession in decades. The big rally in world markets between March and June stalled in the past few weeks as data suggested any economic recovery would be a long, hard slog.

Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 stock average rose 7.44 points, or 0.1 percent, to 9,269.25 after gaining 2.3 percent the day before to snap a nine-session losing streak.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng was up 332.85, or 1.9 percent, to 18,218.58 and South Korea's Kospi gained 2.6 percent.

Elsewhere, Australia's benchmark index gained 1.5 percent and China's Shanghai index rose 1.4 percent. India's Sensex was up 1.3 percent.

"I think there is more evidence of economic recovery in the region," said Mark Tan, who helps manage about $15 billion of equities and bonds at UOB Asset Management in Singapore.

Tan cited Singapore's second-quarter growth figures Tuesday which showed the city-state's economy expanded an annualized 20 percent and marked its first growth in a year. He said that Chinese growth figures — due Thursday — would likely add to the recovery picture.

Analysts are expecting Asia's second-largest economy to have grown between 6.8 percent and 7 percent in the three months ended June 30. China's economy grew 10.1 percent in the same period last year and expanded 6.1 percent in the first quarter, its lowest rate in more than a decade.

In the U.S., Goldman Sachs reported second quarter earnings Tuesday of $2.72 billion, up on last year's $2.05 billion, and easily surpassing forecasts thanks to big gains in trading and underwriting. Other big U.S. banks, such as Citigroup Inc. and Bank of America Corp., will be reporting earnings later this week.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 27.81, or 0.3 percent, to 8,359.49. The broader Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 4.79, or 0.5 percent, to 905.84, while the Nasdaq composite index rose 6.52, or 0.4 percent, to 1,799.73.

Francis Lun, general manager at Fulbright Securities Ltd. in Hong Kong, said that Asian markets were following through on the gains in Europe and the U.S., though lacked the vigor of Tuesday's rises .

"Bank results were better than expected" and were helping to buoy markets, he said of the Goldman results, though added that Asia's performance "is not as strong as yesterday."

Kim Joong-hyun, a strategist at Goodmorning Shinhan Securities in Seoul, said that earnings results announced by U.S. chipmaker Intel after the close of Wall Street trading were also providing support for markets.

The chip maker posted sales and profit that breezed past Wall Street's forecasts — though investors had to overlook a $1.45 billion antitrust fine from the European Union. The fine, which Intel had to pay while it is appealing the case, gave the world's biggest semiconductor company its first quarterly net loss since 1986.

Other big nonfinancial companies such as Google Inc. and General Electric Co. are due to report earnings this week.

Oil prices rose above $60 a barrel in Asia as investors looked to a weekly inventory report for clues on U.S. gasoline demand. Benchmark crude for August delivery was up 99 cents to $60.54 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. On Tuesday, the contract fell 17 cents to settle at $59.52.

In currencies, the dollar fell to 93.37 yen from 93.60 yen while the euro rose to $1.4053 from $1.3969.

Disclosure: Author does not own any of the stocks discussed here.

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