JAL Plunges 45%, Chinese Automakers Gain and Hong Kong Property Predicted to Rise

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Most Asian stocks rose Tuesday with Japan's Nikkei 225 Index gaining 0.8% to close at 10,879. In China, the Shanghai Composite Index climbed 1.9% to 3,274 and in Hong Kong the Hang Seng lost 0.4%, ending the day at 22,327.

In Tokyo, shares in Japan Airlines (JALSY) nose-dived 45% today to a record low. The future of the ailing carrier is looking more and more uncertain as the airline cruises towards bankruptcy court. After record annual losses of 63 billion yen and passenger numbers that have declined for 15 months in a row, according to Bloomberg, a fourth government bailout in a decade is not looking likely for JAL, as Prime Minister Hatoyama holds his ground. The airline is expected to continue flying as a restructuring plan is put into place. Key components of the recovery are likely to include aid from Japan's Development Bank and an alliance with Delta Air Lines.

%%DynaPub-Enhancement class="enhancement contentType-HTML Content fragmentId-1 payloadId-61603 alignment-right size-small"%% Japanese metals companies surged today. The largest gains in the sector included Sumitomo Metal Industries, which climbed 5.6% and Nippon Steel, which soared 5.1%. JFE Holdings gained 3.6% and Kobe Steel added 2.2%.

China investors plowed more money into shares in celebration of an increase in the county's imports and exports. Car companies continued to climb in China after yesterday's announcement that the country has become the world's number one car market after a 46% rise in sales last year: SAIC Motor rose 3.5% adding to yesterday's gains, both FAW CAR Co. and DongFeng Automobile added 2.5% and Chongqing Changan Automobile advanced 2.9%.

Chinese shippers also advanced, with investors predicting a rise in the volume of goods going in and out of the country as the recovery continues with China Cosco Holdings (CICOF) rising 5.4%

In Hong Kong, most real estate shares fell, despite a report by Centaline Property Agency saying that home values in the territory may rise another 35% this year, and luxury home prices may go up 20%. Prices are now at the highest levels in nearly 12 years, and Bloomberg reports that prices rose 29% just last year. The government has implemented new rules in an effort to cool the market and prevent speculation, but demand seems to continue. Glorious Property fell 2.6%, Evergrande dropped 0.7% and Sun Hung Kai (SUHJY) lost 0.3%.

In Hong Kong, buildings like Sun Hung Kai's Les Saisons, which includes an 80-foot long swimming pool, a golf simulator room and a putting green, Centaline says apartment prices have shot up 9.5% this month alone. Meanwhile, in older properties like the Hong Kong Parkview, which with its swimming pools complete with waterfall, ballrooms and fancy restaurants, is still popular with expats, units are falling in value with prices down 3% this month. This is the building where American ex-pat Nancy Kissle, allegedly murdered her husband, a prominent Merrill Lynch banker in 2003. The case became known as the "milkshake murder" after it emerged that woman-about-town Kissel had allegedly served her husband a sedative-laced milkshake before beating him with a golf club and rolling his body in a carpet. She is back in court today appealing her conviction. Luxury like this is, apparently, no cure for unhappiness.

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