Dai-ichi Life Insurance Soars in Japanese IPO, Asian Property Still Frothy

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Dai-ichi IPO at Tokyo Stock ExchangeAsian markets closed higher Thursday. In Hong Kong the Hang Seng Index rose 1.4% to 21,537 and in China the Shanghai Composite Index advanced 1.2% to end the day at 3,147. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index climbed 1.4% to 11,244.Japanese insurance company Dai-ichi Life Insurance surged 14% in today's debut. The company's $11 billion IPO makes it the world's biggest since 2008, when Visa sold $19.7 billion in shares, according to Bloomberg. In Japan, it's the largest IPO since 1998. Analysts hope today's success will improve market sentiment. "In one day, $11 billion comes into the market," Ed Rogers, chief executive officer of hedge-fund adviser Rogers Investment Advisors Y.K., told Bloomberg. "It's also great for the economy of Japan because Dai-ichi is not going to just sit on it," he added.

Investors plowed money into department store operators, with UNY, which operates stores in Japan and Hong Kong, soaring 5.4%, Marui Group spiked 3.1% and swish Takashimaya gained 3%.

Heavy equipment maker Fuji Electric leaped 6.7% after predicting it will beat earnings forecasts, while Hitachi, which manufactures heavy electrical and industrial machinery including nuclear power systems and consumer products, skyrocketed 5.4%. Ebara Corp., maker of water and fuel pumps, climbed 5%.

In China, real estate companies made gains today, estimating increased sales during the first quarter. Beijing developer Citichamp Dartong surged 5.4%, Poly Real Estate jumped 3.1% Cosmos Group gained 3%, China Vanke rose 2.4% and Gemdale advanced 2.8%. Real estate investments have already increased 30% over the first two months of 2010, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.

Other gainers included Sanan Optoelectronics, which rallied 8.6%, reaching its highest stock price since its 1996 IPO and Datong Coal Industry, which advanced 3.1%.

In Hong Kong it was good news for investors in real estate companies, who are hanging on despite the chatter that a bubble may be forming. Today Cheung Kong soared 2.5%, China Overseas shot up 2.2%, Hang Lung rose 1.5% and New World Development and Sino Land both climbed 1.2%. Henderson Land regained just 0.4% of yesterday's losses, having submitted an explanation to the government as to why 24 out of 25 transactions at the company's prestigious 39 Conduit Road have not been completed.

Trinity, the maker of clothing for Brit-style Gieves & Hawkes, surged 16.5% on reports that it will open around 55 shops in China, where shoppers are increasingly looking for luxury menswear to suit their new swanky lifestyle. Yue Yuen, however, plunged 7% after taking on loans and other agreements of up to $707 million, says Business Week. Yue Yuen's the company that probably made your comfy Asics running shoes and my son's garish Nike sports shoes. In today's economy, perhaps it's finally become stylish to make those sneakers last just a little longer.

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