Asia stocks off high
(Baystreet Foreign Markets Wrap (Canada) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge)
Japanese stocks ended at a seven-month high Monday, further stretching a recent rally that has been inspired by a weakened yen, while Chinese and South Korean shares slipped on caution ahead of a Eurogroup meeting on financial aid for Greece.
The Nikkei 225 Index in Japan returned from a long weekend to gain 22.14 points, or 0.2%, to 9,388.24, a closing level it hasn't seen since late April.
In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index scaled back 52.17 points, or 0.2%, to 21,861.81
The mixed performance came as euro-zone finance ministers were set to reconvene, after failing to approve Greece's latest tranche of aid last week. Ahead of the meeting, traders had "some doubts about the significance of the strong rally in U.S. markets on Friday," given that it took place in holiday-thinned trading, said one analyst.
Monday's Japanese stock gains followed a 3.8% advance for the Nikkei Stock Average over the four trading days last week, as the yen weakened further. The dollar posted strong gains against the yen last week, and is up nearly 3% so far in November, amid hopes for more monetary-policy easing.
Just ahead of the stock-market open on Monday, the Japanese central bank released the minutes of its Oct. 30 policy meeting a meeting at which it decided to expand its asset-buying program with the language underlining plans to "undertake further aggressive monetary easing."
The central bank stood pat at a subsequent meeting last week minutes for which have yet to be released though it hinted more easing was to come.
Japan's major exporters got a boost as the euro broke above the 107-yen level early Monday to hit a seven-month high against the Japanese currency, before later falling back to ¥106.62.
The dollar was changing hands for ¥82.18, down from ¥82.35 Friday.
Euro-exposed names were stronger on Monday. Canon Inc. rose 0.2% and Pioneer Corp. jumped 4.1%.
Tokyo-listed car makers were higher as well, with Toyota Motor Corp. up 1.7%, Honda Motor Co. gaining 0.6%, and Nissan Motor Co. ahead by 2.3%.
Shares of Renesas Electronics Corp. soared 16.6% after the Nikkei business daily reported the three top shareholders in the struggling microchip maker were set to buy the firm out.
Among them, Hitachi Ltd. rose 0.2% and NEC Corp. climbed 0.7%. The third firm, Mitsubishi Electric Corp., gained 1.7%.
In Australia, Qantas Airways Ltd. climbed 2.8% after the Australian Financial Review reported over the weekend that a group of former executives and investors had bought a stake in the firm.
Gains for energy and material firms offered broad support for the Australian market, with Beach Energy Ltd. up 1.8%, and gold miner Newcrest Mining Ltd. advancing 1.6%.
In Hong Kong, energy firms were broadly weaker, with refiner China Petroleum & Chemical Corp., dropping 1.2%, PetroChina Co. declining 1% and China Shenhua Energy Co. shedding 0.3%.
Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd. slipped 0.1%. Late on Friday, the Hong Kong-listed carrier said that competition has pushed average economy-class ticket prices 4% lower compared to the previous year, while premium traffic suffered amid challenging global economic conditions.
Losses for Samsung Electronics Co. pressured the broader market in Seoul, with the heavily weighted electronics major dropping 2.3%.
Arch-rival Apple Inc. reportedly filed Friday to add six more Samsung products to its patent infringement lawsuit against the Korean firm.
In the Japanese consumer electronics sector, Sony Corp. fell 1.9% while Panasonic Corp. lost 0.3% as investors took their first chance to react to last week's credit downgrade at Fitch. The ratings firm cut both companies to non-investment or “junk.”
The Shanghai CSI 300 Composite Index ditched 17.08 points, or 0.8%, to 2,175.60
Alcoholic drinks makers skidded on the mainland bourses amid product safety concerns after inspectors found excessive levels of a toxic chemical in a baijiu brand produced by Jiugui Liquor Co. Shares of Jiugui Liquor skidded by the day's 10% permissible limit in Shenzhen.
Among other rivals, Wuliangye Yibin Co. slid 2.3% in Shenzhen, while Kweichow Moutai Co. dropped 2.3% in Shanghai.
In other markets
In Singapore, the Straits Times Index gained 15.22 points, or 0.5%, to 3,004.50
Korea's Kospi index eased 2.82 points, or 0.2%, to 1,908.51
Taiwan's Taiex Index moved ahead 81.36 points, or 1.1%, to 7,407.37
New Zealand's NZX 50 gained 3.69 points, or 0.1%, to 4,012.03
Australia's ASX Index added 11.18 points, or 0.3%, to 4,424.19
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