Asian Markets: Metallurgical Corp. soars in Chinese IPO

Asian markets were mixed on Monday with many markets closed for the holidays. China's Shanghai Composite Index was up .2 percent to close at 2,967.

The debut of Metallurgical Corp of China on the Shanghai Stock Exchange generated lots of excitement. It is the world's second largest IPO this year, and will be listed in Hong Kong later this week, having raised as much as $5.12 billion. State-owned Metallurgical jumped as high as 38 percent during its first day of trading, ending the session up 28 percent with shares listed at 6.9 yuan.Metallurgical Corp. is one of China's premier engineering and construction firms and is perhaps best known internationally for helping to build Beijing's mesmerizing "Bird's Nest" stadium for last year's Olympic games. It's a global company that is involved in projects in many countries including Japan, India, Canada, Germany and Australia.

Other Chinese companies to keep an eye on include major drug distributor Sinopharm Group Co., which is scheduled to launch its IPO this week and has raised $1.13 billion. Sinopharm is reported to have attracted the likes of Prince Walid bin Talal of Saudi Arabia and Singapore state-owned Temasek Holdings which, according to TopNews blog, have "placed orders worth US$100 million each."

Elsewhere on the Chinese exchange, metal shares fell, with Jiangxi Copper falling 2.9 percent, Maanshan Iron & Steel dropping 1.7 percent and Beijing Shougang down .6 percent. Pundits say the weak showing in steel shares is due to rising Chinese inventory and falling prices. Australian-listed BHP Billiton Ltd., the world's largest mining company, also slipped 1.6 percent.

Chinese department store owner Shanghai Bailian Group Co. surged 6.7 percent on the hopes that next week's National Day, which marks the start of Golden Week, will spur Chinese spending. Millions of Chinese people travel during Golden Week and workers are traditionally given three days of paid holiday. Shopping and bargain-hunting is often high on holiday-makers' agendas.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng Index lost 0.7 percent, closing at 21,473. Worries over increasingly risky lending led to losses in the territory's banking stocks: Bank of China Ltd., dropped 3.2 percent, Industrial & Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) lost 2.3 percent, Bank of East Asia Ltd slid 1.7 percent and Hang Seng Bank Ltd fell 1.1 percent.

Hong Kong's retail sector got a boost from Obama's "State of the Union" interview with CNN, which indicated that Americans may be heading to the stores again. "All the signs are that the economy's going to start growing again," he said Sunday. This positive remark combined with high hopes for increased tourist traffic due to Golden Week sent Li & Fung, Ltd. soaring 7.2 percent and Esprit Holdings Ltd. up .9 percent.

If Obama's correct, perhaps we'll be seeing a golden week in the U.S. as well as China.
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