Chinese Internet and TV Companies Surge, HK Automakers Rev Up

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In Asia Thursday China's Shanghai Composite Index dipped 0.1% to 3,046 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng slipped 0.3% to 21,331. In Japan, the Nikkei 225 lost 1% to end the day at 10,744.

In China today, cable TV and internet-related shares rose after the government said it might allow companies to sell packages that include telephone, Internet and TV services. According to Business Week, testing of these bundles may begin as soon as June. Insigma Technology, which makes computer and Internet access equipment, soared to its 10% daily limit and Shanghai Potevio, a telecom equipment company surged 8%. Beijing Gehua CATV Network gained 1.9%.

Chinese banks took a hit today after analysts predicted that many of the loans made to developers might not pay off. China Construction Bank slid 0.9%, China Merchants Bank fell 0.8%. Industrial & Commercial Bank of China and China Minsheng Bank both dropped 0.4%.

Meanwhile, Chinese real estate firms gained with Poly Real Estate advancing 1.4% and China Vanke adding 1.1%. Gemdale Corp. inched up 0.3%.

In Hong Kong, developers slid lower today: Hang Lung plunged 2.2%, New World Development lost 1.2%, Cheung Kong fell 0.8% and Sun Hung Kai slipped 0.5%. Among retailers, Li & Fung, which outsources the production of clothes and other goods for the likes of Abercrombie, WalMart and Target, sank 2.7% and Esprit Holdings dropped 1%.

Hong Kong-listed car makers fared well today with Dongfeng Motor Group surging 6.9%. The automaker's sales rose a whopping 14% in February alone. Geely, still wrapping up talks over the purchase of Volvo, rose 3.5% in today's trading.

In Tokyo, real estate dragged the Nikkei lower with major developers falling. Mitsubishi Estate tumbled 3.8%, Tokyu Land Corp., which builds houses and condos, plunged 3% and Mitsui Fudosan sank 2.4%.

Japanese car companies took a hit today, with beleaguered Toyota sliding 1.4% after more bad news: The company has divulged that 1.2 million Corolla and Matrix models could have stalling problems. Other Japanese car makers also suffered today with Isuzu tumbling 3.6%, Honda down 1.5% and Nissan slipping 1%. While many thought Toyota's image problem would benefit its competitors, it just might be tarnishing their reputations as well.

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