HK Retail Exporters Rise on U.S. Spending Data, Toyota in NASA's Hands

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Models wearing Abercrombie & Fitch clothingIn Asia Tuesday, Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index advanced 0.6% to 21,375 and China's Shanghai Composite Index inched up 0.1% to end the day at 3,128. In Japan, the Nikkei 225 Index rose 1% to close at 11,097.Reports that Americans are spending more and that consumer confidence is rising in Europe sent shares of Hong Kong exporters soaring. Li & Fung, which sources many of the clothes you buy at Wal-Mart and the trendy threads your kids buy at Abercrombie, posted a 2.1% gain. Esprit Holdings, which reportedly earns about 80% of its revenue in Europe jumped 4.4%. The Hong Kong shipping companies that bring those goods across the seas lost value today, with Cosco Pacific plunging 3.2% and China Shipping Container Lines falling 1.3%.

Miners and energy producers rose in Hong Kong with Chalco, otherwise known as Aluminum Corporation of China, advancing 2.7%, Yanzhou Coal Mining gaining 2.7% and Real Gold Mining adding 1.2%. China Shenhua Energy, which produces coal, advanced 1.6%.

Hutchison Whampoa, which runs a multitude of businesses, from telecommunications and shipping ports to hotels and e-commerce services, fell 2.7% after reporting that net income missed analyst's estimates. Hutchison Whampoa is run by Li Ka-shing, who ranks 14th on Forbes' latest list of the world's billionaires. But today his property company, Cheung Kong also slipped, losing 0.5%, even after reporting that profits for 2009 had risen 53%.

Other Hong Kong developers fell, including Country Garden, which is owned by China's second richest woman. New World Development sank 0.9%, while China Overseas surged 2.7% and Henderson Land gained 1.4%.

Chinese real estate company Gemdale soared 3.2% and China Vanke climbed 0.9%. Property prices in China have risen 11% in February alone, says Bloomberg, as buyers take advantage of the government's massive stimulus packages designed to keep the economy chugging along.

Shaanxi Baoguang Vacuum Electronic Apparatus surged to its 10% daily limit after reports that it will sell one arm of its business and Harbin Air Conditioning slumped 8.1% after reporting a 49% drop in income for 2009.

In Japan, the news of higher consumer spending across the seas combined with a drop in the jobless rate at home sent shares in electronics companies higher. Konica Minolta surged 3.5%, Canon climbed 2.5%, Sony racked up a 2% gain and Panasonic advanced 1.6%.

Carmakers, also heavily dependent on sales abroad, closed higher with Mazda rising 2% and Honda gaining 0.9%. Even beleaguered Toyota, which has recently recalled over 8 million cars, added 0.8%. NASA has now been called in to solve the mystery of unintended acceleration of Toyota's Camry's Corollas and other models. Needing a rocket scientist to sort out the problem is a sure sign of just how high tech these Japanese cars have become.

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