Hang Seng Rises While HK's Livability Rating Falls, Foxconn Shares Climb Despite Suicides

In Asia Wednesday Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index rose 1.1% to 19,196 and China's Shanghai Composite Index inched up 0.1% to 2,625. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index added 0.7% to end the day at 9,523.

Shares rose in Hong Kong, taking the sting out of the city's low ranking on Mercer Consulting's latest quality of life survey. Hong Kong ranked number 71, falling one place from last year, and is unable to score higher because of its dire pollution problems. The survey takes factors like infrastructure, medical care and social environments into consideration.

While Hong Kong boasts one of the best airports in the world (including easy access to affordable reflexology and plush showering facilities, but not including the swimming pool available at Singapore's Changi airport), a fantastic MTR (subway) system, and constant WiFi service even underground, the pollution remains a major concern. In fact, Hong Kong's survey score nearly puts it on par with cities like Mumbai, where foreign workers are often given hardship allowances.

But rankings aside, Hong Kong remains a fantastic place to do business. Today, although MTR Corp. sank 2.3%, Hong Kong-listed China Unicom, a company providing telecom services in China, shot up 5.1% and Internet provider Tencent Holdings surged 4.4%.

Foxconn, which is rumored to be shipping out 24 million iPhone G4s this year according to tuaw.com (The Unofficial Apple Weblog), rallied 7.2%. Foxconn, a division of Taiwanese Hon Hai Precision Industry, has asked employees to sign documents promising they won't commit suicide, according to a Bloomberg report. There have been an inordinate number of suicides at the firm this year, and now clients, from Apple to Hewlett-Packard are investigating, according to Bloomberg.

Hong Kong energy companies rose today with China Shenhua Energy gaining 5.3% and Petrochina, an oil and natural gas explorer and producer, rising 2.9%.

Among shippers, one of the city's most visible industries due to the stacks of containers along the highway from the airport and the constant passing of cargo ships in the South China Sea, Cosco Pacific climbed 5.1% and China Cosco Holdings rose 3.7%.

Japanese cargo companies also made gains today with Mitsui O.S.K. Lines surging 5%, Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha advancing 4.3% and Nippon Yusen K.K. adding 3.2%.

In Japan's auto sector, Toyota sank 2% and Honda dropped 1.1%, while Mazda increased 4.1%.

Other gainers included Fast Retailing, operator of Uniqlo shops around the world, which soared 4.4% and office equipment maker Brother Industries, which rallied 5.2%.

Winners on Shanghai's big board included Datang International Power Generation, which leaped 7.5%, China Railway Erju, which advanced 2.8%, and shipping company China Cosco, which rose 1.9%.
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