Tuesday, 11 December 2012 - 04:08
ASIA MARKETS: Asia Stocks Mostly Higher, But Japan Lags
By Sarah Turner, MarketWatch
SYDNEY (MarketWatch) -- Asia stocks mostly gained Tuesday after a mild advance on Wall Street, but the Japanese market fell in choppy trade amid weakness for utilities.
South Korea's Kospi rose 0.4%, Australia's S&P/ASX 200 index advanced 0.3%, and New Zealand's NZX 50 added 0.2%.
But Japan's Nikkei Stock Average declined 0.2% after ending the previous session with a modest 0.1% gain.
The moves came after U.S. stocks edged higher Monday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) and the S&P 500 index (SPX) hitting their highest levels since the presidential election in early November.
Wall Street's gains occurred amid signs of progress in talks over the fiscal cliff of billions of dollars in upcoming U.S. tax hikes and spending cuts.
Weekend statements on the negotiations released by the U.S. president and the speaker of the House were identical, "which we interpret as a positive sign that the two sides are closer to an agreement" said Yelena Shulyatyeva, economist at BNP Paribas.
In Japanese trading, the volatile utility sector was dragging on the market, with Tokyo Electric Power Co. (9501.TO) down 2.1%, Chubu Electric Power Co. (9502.TO) dropping 5.1%, and Kansai Electric Power Co. tumbling 7.1%.
Helping sour sentiment toward the sector, the Japanese government concluded late Monday that the Tsuruga nuclear power station operated by the unlisted Japan Atomic Power Co. -- in which many of the major utilities hold stakes -- is likely sitting on an active fault and may be decommissioned, according to a Nikkei news report.
On the upside in Tokyo, Renesas Electronics Corp. (RNECY) jumped 9% after the firm confirmed late Monday that it will receive up to 200 billion yen ($2.43 billion) of capital in a deal that will see a government-backed fund emerge with a near-70% stake in the loss-making technology firm.
Sharp Corp. (SHCAF) gained 3.9% after a separate Nikkei report that Mitsubishi UFJ Trust and Banking Corp. and Mizuho Trust & Banking Co. will lend the firm Â¥20 billion, while Resona Bank is also mulling a Â¥20 billion loan. The lenders' parent firms -- Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc. (MTU) and Resona Holdings Inc. (8308.TO) -- saw their shares fall 0.3% each.
South Korean trading saw chip maker SK Hynix Inc. (HXSCL) advance 1.5% although its larger rival Samsung Electronics Co. (SSNLF) retreated from an all-time high hit Monday with a 0.5% decline.
Australian shares moved back up to a level not seen since mid October, with miners fuelling the gains after some strong performances for metal futures in New York on Monday.
Iron-ore extractor Fortescue Metals Group Ltd. (FSUMY) climbed 3.3%, diversified mining group BHP Billiton Ltd. (BHP) rose 1.5%, and rival Rio Tinto Ltd. (RIO) also advanced 1.5%.
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(END) Dow Jones Newswires
December 10, 2012 20:08 ET (01:08 GMT)
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