LONDON (CNNfn) - Asian markets rose Wednesday on the back of a record-breaking one-day gain for the U.S. Nasdaq stock market after Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan hinted at a cut in interest rates to help prop up a slowing economy. |
Technology and telecom stocks advanced, but key regional indexes pared their early-session gains amid speculation Tuesday's 10.5 percent surge in the Nasdaq composite was overdone, after Apple Computer (AAPL: Research, Estimates) issued a profit warning.
In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 jumped 194.32 points, or more than 1.3 percent, to close at 14,889.37, led by consumer electronics powerhouse Sony and dominant mobile-phone operator NTT DoCoMo. The benchmark index had shot up more than 2.8 percent earlier in the session.
The Hang Seng in Hong Kong surged 525.74 points, or 3.6 percent, to end the session at 15,098.95. Interest-rate-sensitive property and banking stocks, such as Sun Hung Kai Properties and international bank HSBC Holdings, were among the leading gainers.
"Everyone's paying respect to the Nasdaq and to Greenspan, but they also realize the Nasdaq's gains may well be temporary," said Masatoshi Sato, an equities trading information manager at Mizuho Investors Securities.
The Nasdaq is down more than 40 percent from its March peak while the Nikkei has suffered an eight-month decline that has pulled it down 30 percent from the year's highest point, set in April.
Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan's comments on Tuesday that the economy had cooled appreciably were taken by investors to mean the Fed may cut interest rates in the coming months.
In Singapore, the Straits Times index rose 1.1 percent to 1,974.83. In the technology sector, Chartered Semiconductor rose 2.6 percent, Venture Manufacturing rose 4.6 percent and Omni Industries gained 3.5 percent.
The S&P/ASX 200 in Australia edged up just 1.6 points at 3,308.1, thanks mainly to a 4 percent rise in index heavyweight News Corp. and the country's dominant phone company Telstra, which represents 6 percent of the index, rose 1.5 percent.
On the currency market, the yen strengthened slightly to ¥110.84 against the U.S. dollar from ¥111.09 in late New York trade Tuesday.
Tech heavyweights lift Tokyo
Among leading gainers in Tokyo, bellwether high-tech manufacturer Sony climbed 4.1 percent and Advantest, a maker of semiconductor-testing devices, rose 4.2 percent.
Japan's No. 1 chipmaker NEC jumped 5.3 percent, Toshiba climbed 3.8 percent, while Fujitsu, the country's biggest personal computer maker, added 3.5 percent and Hitachi advanced 2.2 percent.
NTT DoCoMo, which has a 60 percent share of the Japanese mobile-phone market, jumped 4.2 percent. Its parent Nippon Telegraph and Telephone rose 2.4 percent.
Rival telecom operator KDDI climbed almost 6 percent. The company said it would form a joint venture with advertising agency Hakuhodo to put adverts on Internet services accessible via its mobile phones.
Softbank rose 3.4 percent to ¥6000 ($54.18). The company, which invests in several Internet companies listed on the Nasdaq, was still 90 percent down from its peak of ¥66,000 (as adjusted for a share split) reached in February.
Bridgestone dropped 12.6 percent, extending its decline since Monday's claim by a lawyer for plaintiffs in the United States that legal damages awards for selling defective tires implicated in fatal accidents could total $50 billion and bankrupt its U.S. unit Bridgestone/Firestone.
Bridgestone President Yoichiro Kaizaki held a news conference on Tuesday to deny the unit was in danger of failing, saying the tire maker would set aside $450 million this year for claims.
Rate-sensitive stocks lead in Hong Kong
In Hong Kong, investors snapped up bank and property stocks, backing them as the likeliest beneficiaries if the U.S. cuts interest rates in the first quarter of next year, as many analysts now believe. Rate cuts can prompt consumers and businesses to borrow more money.
Property developer Sun Hung Kai Properties - one of the territory's biggest developers with a number of projects due to go on sale in the first half of next year -- surged 9.3 percent.
Property-based conglomerate Cheung Kong (Holdings) soared 6.9 percent, New World Development jumped 8.7 percent and Henderson Land shot up more than 7.7 percent.
Banking titan HSBC Holdings rose more than 3.6 percent, Dao Heng Bank rose 5 percent and Hang Seng Bank gained 2.7 percent.
In the telecom sector, China Mobile, the mainland's biggest mobile-phone operator, rose 2.2 percent, telecom conglomerate Hutchison Whampoa soared 4.5 percent and Hong Kong Internet and telecom company Pacific Century CyberWorks surged 6.8 percent.
Legend Holdings, the mainland's biggest computer maker, which is particularly sensitive to movements in the U.S. technology sector, gained 4.2 percent.
Among other Asian markets, Seoul's KOSPI index edged up 0.2 percent, the KLSE composite in Kuala Lumpur added 1.6 percent, the PHS composite in Manila rose 0.9 percent, and the BSE Sensex in Mumbai rose 0.7 percent.
Jakarta's JSX rose 0.5 percent and the SET index in Bangkok added 0.2 percent, while Taipei's Taiwan Weighted slipped 0.5 percent
--from staff and wire reports.