Hong Kong Home Prices Continue to Rise, Developers Gain

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Asian markets advanced Monday. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index inched up 0.1% to 20,840 and China's Shanghai Composite Index advanced 0.6% to 2,589. In Japan the Nikkei 225 Index rose 0.8% to end the day at 9,504.

A spike in home prices in Hong Kong, combined with anticipation over the auction of prime real estate on The Peak, pushed shares in Hong Kong developers higher today. The site at 103 Mount Nicholson Road is expected to fetch up to HK$11.4 billion ($1.5 billion), is made up of four government-owned residential buildings, which had been popular homes for both locals and expats looking for more space and less flash. Unlike most developments, this one boasted a courtyard with actual grass -- uncommon in Hong Kong because of the threat of snakes, and residents here have caught sight of the odd python or two.

Optimism over rising property prices, which Centaline reports have risen 9.6% this year to their highest levels since 1997, combined with European banks' stress test results, sent shares in Henderson Land surging 1.6%, Hang Lung soaring 1.4%, New World Development rising 0.9% and Cheung Kong up 1.2%. Sung Hung Kai gained 0.8% after announcing it has made more than $1 billion, according to Bloomberg, on the recent sale of 300 apartments that look out over the posh Aberdeen Marina Club (boasting swimming pools with waterfalls) and Ocean Park, an amusement park that includes a cable car ride carrying passengers over the rocky cliffs at the edge of the South China Sea. The flats in the Larvotto development went for an average of $5.1 million, says Propgoluxury.com.

Shares in Foxconn, the electronics maker that produces products for major companies such as Apple, Dell and Hewlett-Packard, skyrocketed 6% today. The company's parent, Taiwanese Hon Hai Precision, plans to build two new factories in China where it will make cell phones and other equipment, says Xinhua.

In China, news that the government could limit the annual production of certain nonferrous metals led to a jump in metals producers. Aluminum Corp. of China, a.k.a. Chalco, climbed 6.4%, Henan Yuguang Gold and Lead rose 3.7% and Yunnan Tin gained 2.6%. Zijin Mining shares were suspended from trading in both Shanghai and Hong Kong, saying they soon plan to make a price-sensitive announcement. The company has been reeling from a chemical spill that has contaminated waters in a fishing river in Guangdong.

Japan's Finance Ministry said that shipments abroad rose 27.7% in June. But according to Bloomberg, this rise represents a slowdown as compared with gains made during the previous months. Still, shares in camera exporters rose today with Canon racking up a 2.5% gain, Konica Minolta leaping 2% and Olympus rising 1.7%. Among electronics makers Panasonic Electric shot up 4.4% and Casio Computer advanced 0.8%.

Clarion, a maker of sound systems for cars rallied 7% and Alps Electric, which makes electronic components for cars, rose 2.4%. Jtekt, a maker of car parts including electronic equipment, rose 1.6%.

Fanuc, Japan's top maker of industrial robots continued to climb, rising 1.7% today. Good news for shareholders, but not so good for workers whose jobs may soon be automated.
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