Asian Shares Rise as Shanghai Expo Attracts Millions

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Shares in Asia rebounded Friday. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index gained 1.2% to 11,057 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index rose 1.6% to 21,109. In China the Shanghai Composite Index eked out a 0.1% increase, ending the day at 2,871.

Most of Shanghai's financial district was closed in preparation for tonight's opening ceremony of the World Expo. In fact, the city's residents have been given a five-day public holiday in order to help maintain order. Some 70 million visitors are expected to visit the Expo and the opening program is rumored to be even more awesome than the opening of the Beijing Olympics.

Security is a top priority and armed police have been stationed around the site, which is twice the size of Monaco, and at subway stations, according to the BBC. In addition to the usual precautions of metal detector scans and bag checks, the authorities have banned visitors from bringing lighters, matches and drinks into the grounds. Bloomberg says authorities have even gone so far as to ban the flying of model airplanes anywhere in Shanghai or in nearby provinces and have stationed soldiers on deserted islands off the coast, according to China Daily.

Baoshan Iron & Steel also had cause for celebration. Its shares climbed 6% Friday. An increase in metal demand for cars and appliances increased revenue 37% compared with last year, writes China Daily. Wuhan Iron and Steel surged 2.2%. But Gold miners fell today with Shandong Gold Mining slumping 2.6% and Zijin Mining Group losing 0.6%.

China has already overtaken the U.S. as the world's biggest car market, and SAIC Motor, GM and Volkswagon's Chinese partner and China's number 1 manufacturer, has announced record-high first quarter profits. After yesterday's gains, shares slid 0.4% in today's trading. Dongfeng Motor tumbled 3.3% and both Chongqing Changan Automobile and Beiqi Foton Motor fell 2.7%.

Chinese banks made gains today with Hong Kong-listed shares of China Construction Bank rising 4.2%, China Merchants Bank advancing 3.1% and Industrial & Commercial Bank of China gaining 1.9%.

Hong Kong-listed casino operators fared well today with billionaire Sheldon Adelson's Sands China soaring 3.1% and Wynn Macau surging 2.8% after reporting a 32% surge in first quarter revenue. Galaxy Entertainment climbed 2.5%.

In Japan, electronics companies fared well. Oki Electric,which makes printers, ATMs and a broad range of telecom equipment skyrocketed 7.7% after reporting impressive earnings. Nikon advanced 3.8% and Casio Computer rallied 3.6%.

Japanese developers were among the top-performing sectors in Tokyo trading. Mitsubishi Estate, owner of Rockefeller Center, posted better-than-expected profits and shot up 5.4%. Tokyu Land climbed 4.4% and Heiwa Real Estate, which manages properties and operates several hotels and resorts, gained 4.2%. Let's hope this is a sign that Japan's economy is really on the mend.
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