Japanese Shares Surge on Positive U.S. Data, HK Real Estate Stocks Rise

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Japanese shares rise most in nine weeksAsian markets closed mostly higher Monday. In Japan the Nikkei 225 Index surged 2.3% to 11,166 and in Hong Kong the Hang Seng gained 1.6% to close at 21,587. China's Shanghai Composite Index slid 0.5% to end the day at 2,970.

Positive data out of the U.S., including a surprise increase of 27% in new home sales in March and a 2.8% rise in new orders for durable goods, excluding transportation equipment, helped Japanese shares make their biggest leap in nine weeks.

All those new homeowners must be out shopping for electronics, from microwaves to sound systems, sending shares in Japanese electronics companies surging. In today's trading Hitachi, which makes a wide range of products from nuclear power systems to water-saving dishwashers, climbed 4.8%, Casio Computer jumped 4.1% and Sharp rose 3.1%. Panasonic gained 2.5% and electronics giant Sony was up 1.5%.

Japanese camera makers also got a boost today with Konica Minolta soaring 4.6%, Fujifilm rising 4.1% and Nikon and Canon both gaining 3.5%. Kyocera, which manufacturers electronic equipment and components, jumped 5.1% and Fanuc, maker of robotic factory systems responsible for packing food products at lightning speed, leaped 3.8%. Alps Electric, which makes electronic parts for cars, scored a 3.8% gain.

Japanese car makers had a great day with Isuzu racking up a 3.5% increase, Toyota advancing 3.4%, Honda up 3% and Mazda rising 2.1%. Hino Motors, which makes diesel buses and trucks, rocketed up 6.3%.

Hong Kong real estate companies staged a comeback with the Hang Seng Property Index rising 1.6% after declining for the past three days. Today's big gainers included Henderson Land, which surged 4.3%, Hang Lung, which gained 4% and Sino Land, which added 3.1%. Sun Hung Kai rose 1.7% and New World Development advanced 1.6%.

Hong Kong exporters climbed on hopes that a U.S. recovery will spur increased sales of popular consumer items. Foxconn International, which makes mobile phones, gained 2.8% and Li & Fung, a major distributor of clothes and toys to Wal-Mart and Target, rose 2%.

Yanzhou Coal Mining, which is listed in Hong Kong but operates in China, rallied 7.2% today. Other miners also increased, with gold miner Zijin adding 0.8%.

In China, property stocks continued to slide as analysts predict further restrictions on property investors are to come. In today's trading China Vanke dropped 1.6% and Poly Real Estate dipped 0.4%. Meanwhile, automaker Jiangling Motors, Ford's Chinese partner, surged 7.1% after announcing that profits for the first half of the year could be 120% higher than last year, according to Bloomberg. If property prices begin to fall in the People's Republic, more Chinese may be able to afford homes to go along with all those new cars they're buying.

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