LONDON (CNNfn) - Japanese investors missed out on a rally across the region Monday, preferring to fret on the impact of the strong yen. A surge across many of the region's markets lost some steam late Monday, although most indices still registered strong gains.
In Tokyo, the session was dominated by the home currency's strength against the dollar, with the latter trading around 117.95 yen. This conspired to push the Nikkei 225 index down 177 points to 16,674.21, a fall of just over 1 percent.
Even an intervention by top Japanese finance officials, failed to prevent the yen strengthening. "All the big guys tried to talk the yen down today, but it is worrying that they weren't able to move it very much," Michael Wilkins, a dealer at Credit Lyonnais in Tokyo told Reuters.
Export-related stocks were again the losers, as investors worried about the impact of a strong yen on overseas earnings. The big high-tech stocks took a further hit from a slide in the Nasdaq market in New York.
Sony Corp. closed down 1.38 percent at 11,450 yen, while NEC Corp. lost 1.3 percent to end at 1,293. Automotive components supplier Denso plunged over 5 percent to close at 2,510.
Some of these losses were again off-set by resurgent stocks with a more domestic exposure as traders continued to bet that the Japanese economy is at last emerging from recession. Steel and paper stocks were particularly strong: Kawasaki Steel surged over 6.6 percent to 273 yen, while Oji Paper leapt more than 6.8 percent to close at 677 yen.
Overseas buyers drove much of the strong rally in the region's smaller markets Monday, but as the end of session approached investors started to pocket the gains.
The Hang Seng index in Hong Kong closed 2.2 percent higher at 12,766.44, a rise of 276.14 points, after reaching a session high of 13,079.50. It has taken only two trading days for the index to bust through both the 12,000 and 13,000 marks.
Index heavyweight HSBC Holdings gained HK$3 to HK$280. Telecom company, HK Telecom, added 4.85 percent to close at HK$19.45.
Singapore was enjoying a similar strong run with the Straits Times index losing headway after hitting a high of 1,892.17 in early afternoon trading. Blue chips gave up some of their earlier gains but still finished almost 71 points higher at 1,840.73, a rise of 4 percent.
South Korea's Kospi also benefited from a return of outside capital, with the index adding 5.7 percent to 766.59. Manila's Composite index rallied almost 5.5 percent to end at 2,355.98. Both markets closed before the tide turned toward sellers in the region.
Jakarta's blue chips lost a large proportion of earlier gains - at one point the leading index was up almost 10 percent - to close just under 6 percent higher at 580.15.
Shares also rallied in Malaysia, despite the ongoing civil unrest, with blue chips up 2.63 percent to 615.20.
Other markets were more muted. Sydney's All Ordinaries index ended the session up just 13 points at 3,113.1, while Taiwan's headline index closed 0.55 percent higher at 7,623.18. Thai blue chips were up 1.9 percent at 410.20.
-- from staff and wire reports