Gold Miners Glitter in Hong Kong on Speculation Prices May Continue to Rise

In Asia Friday Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index rose 0.7% to 20,287. In China the Shanghai Composite sank 1.8% to 2,513 and Japan's Nikkei 225 Index remained virtually unchanged at 9,995.

The rapidly rising price of gold pushed Asian mining companies higher Friday. After nearing the all-time high of $1,251 yesterday; the price for spot gold remained above $1,243 today. According to some, the value could rise to $1,300 this year as investors shift their assets away from the dollar and euro, both of which are struggling to secure a firm footing. "Other shoes are going to drop in Europe. You don't want to hold dollars, euros and yen. Gold has great appeal as an alternative and safety asset," Bill O'Neill, a partner at Logic Advisors, told In Hong Kong Zhaojin Mining Industry surged 5.2%, Zijin Mining gained 3.2% and Real Gold Mining advanced 2.9%.

In Hong Kong Tencent, an Internet communications company serving China, rallied 3.8% after reports that the company has agreed to work with Cisco Systems on data and communications services in China, according to China Knowledge.

Hong Kong textile companies fared well today with Victory City International skyrocketing 14.9%, Shenzhou International surging 8.1% and Texhong Textile Group rising 3.6%.

In China drugmakers tumbled with Harbin Pharmaceutical plunging 5.8%, Tianjin Tasly Pharmaceutical diving 8% and Beijing Tongrentang dropping 5.4%. According to Bloomberg, the Chinese government plans to implement policies to halt rising drug prices. Drugs are often sold at many times over cost, even in hospitals. China Daily reports that a patient suffering from ovarian cancer was charged nearly 14 times the wholesale price and 7 times the retail price for the drugs she was prescribed.

Among other losers, China Satcom Guomai Communications, which provides satellite communications, sank the daily maximum of 10% and Xinjiang Goldwind Science & Technology, a maker of wind turbines, slumped 10%.

Japanese lenders plunged today as strict rules over loans go into effect today. Takefuji plunged 7.6%, Promise tumbled 6.1%, Acom tumbled 5.6% and Aiful fell 5.2%.

Japanese car companies also closed lower with both Toyota and Honda sinking 1.7% and Isuzu losing 1.3%. Mazda dipped 0.4%.

Advancing Japanese shares included Toto, the maker of high-tech toilets that squirt water and play music and bird songs, which climbed 4.5%, and real estate company Suncity, which surged 25% on reports that it could have its debt of 1.8 billion yen waived. That's one way of turning losses into profits in a down market.