Nikkei Surges as Warren Buffett Backs Japan as a Buying Opportunity

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Asian markets rose Tuesday. In Japan the Nikkei 225 Index surged 4.4% to 9,608 and in Hong Kong the Hang Seng Index climbed 0.8% to 22,858. China's Shanghai Composite Index edged up 0.3% to end the day at 2,919.

Not everyone is focusing on the down side of Japan's triple disaster -- tsunami, earthquake and nuclear catastrophe. Warren Buffett, for one, has faith in Japan's economic prospects.

Speaking in South Korea, Buffett compared Japan's situation to America's after 9/11, saying it "didn't change the future of the U.S. or the economic prospect of the U.S.," reports the Telegraph. "I feel exactly the same way after what's happened in Japan. People have the same energy, they have the same desire to move on and the same resources to rebuild," the billionaire investor said.

Buffett added that "frequently extraordinary events really create a buying opportunity." And today, investors were certainly searching for bargains. Shares of Tokyo Electric Power, which operates the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant spiked 16.8%. While the company has an enormous clean up job ahead, Japan's lack of natural resources nearly assure that it's got big restructuring work ahead of it, too. Other nuclear companies were also a popular buy today with Toshiba soaring 12.8% and Hitachi rising 6.6%.

Rebuilding Japan

While many argue that it may take ages for bets on Japan to pay off, investors gambled that steelmakers will return handsome profits. Today JFE Holdings rallied 10.7%, Japan Steel Work climbed 7.7% Kobe Steel surged 7.6% and Nippon Steel and Sumitomo Metal Industries shot up 7.1%.

Oil companies also rose with JX Holdings racing up 11.6%, Japan Drilling gaining 8.8% and Inpex Corp. rising 3.5%.

Japanese engineering and building firms were other top performers. Taisei motored up 10.9%, Kajima rose 10.1% and Obayashi, advanced 6.6%.

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In Hong Kong, the airline sector bounced back after fears that radiation leaking from Japan's damaged nuclear power plant would sap the travel industry. While few are heading to Japan to take in the annual cherry blossom festival, they are still traveling elsewhere and shares in Air China climbed 3.6%, China Eastern Airlines gained 4.1% and both China Southern Airlines and Cathay Pacific advanced 3.1%.

Other winners included Lonking Holdings, a construction machinery manufacturer, which surged 8.6% and Lenovo, a maker of computers and other electronic devices, which zipped up 6.5%.

In China, cement makers gained with Huaxin Cement leaping 6.1%, Gansu Qilianshan Cement jumping 5.5% and Anhui Conch rising 4.8%.

Meanwhile, alternative energy companies fared badly with Xiniang Goldwind Science & Technology plunging 3.2%, solar cell manufacturer Risen Energy declining 2.7% and Sinovel Wind losing 1.3%.

Other gainers on the Shanghai market were banks, which are promising to report strong earnings for 2010. Bank of China gained 0.6% and Industrial & Commercial Bank of China and China Construction Bank both rose 0.5%.
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