Bank of Japan Increases Credit to Banks; Asian Markets Rise
Asian markets rose Monday. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index climbed 1.8% to 9,149 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index gained 0.7% to 20,737. In China the Shanghai Composite Index advanced 1.6% to end the day at 2,653.
In an emergency policy meeting today, Japan's government and the Bank of Japan agreed to increase funds available for credit to banks by $116 billion, calling for "bold" action to boost the economy, according to Bloomberg. This comes after Prime Minister Naoto Kan and his finance minister urged action to stem the surge of the country's currency, which has soared to a 15-year high. While analysts question whether a shift in monetary policy can alter Japan's economic situation, Prime Minister Kan's ratings are climbing. The Japan Times says 69% of those surveyed by telephone favored Kan, while challenger Ozawa trailed with a 15% score. Ozawa was recently quoted calling Americans "unicellular." Not a comment likely to instill confidence in his international relations skills.
Japanese exporters surged today. Among electronics companies Canon rose 2.4% and Casio Computer jumped 2.1%. Olympus got a 2.6% boost while TDK, which makes electronic components and other consumer products like DVDs, advanced 3.7%. Arcade and video game maker, Konami, gained 3.7%, Nintendo scored a 1.5% gain and Sony rose 0.8%.
More available credit raised hopes that real estate transactions could increase if interest rates declined. Builders soared with JGC, builder of industrial facilities including nuclear power plants and factories, rocketed up 3.8%, Sekisui House, which makes residential housing, leaped 3%. Taisei, with projects underway from Dubai to Osaka, jumped 1.8%, Obayashi gained 1.2% and Kajima advanced 1%.
Mazda gained the most among Japan's main car makers, surging 2.1%, the company received more than 7,000 orders for it's new Mazda Premacy minivan in the first month since its launch in Japan, surpassing sales targets by 400%, according to the company's own web site. Honda motored up 1.6% and Isuzu added 0.7%. Toyota lost 0.4%. Meanwhile, car audio system maker Clarion climbed 2.5% and Alps Electric, a manufacturer of auto electronic components gained 2%.
Big brand food makers also got a boost today with Kirin Holdings, the well-known beer brewer that also makes pharmaceuticals and other edible products, scored a 2.6% rise and Kikoman, soy sauce maker to the world, rose 2.2%.
In Hong Kong, it was Ben Bernanke's promise to support the U.S. economy that bolstered investors' confidence. HSBC, the most heavily weighted bank on the Hang Seng rallied 1.4% while Industrial & Commercial Bank of China surged 1.9%. Bank of China increased 1% and Bank of Communications was up 0.8%.
In the energy sector Cnooc, a Hong Kong-listed oil company, advanced 1.7%, PetroChina climbed 1.3% and China Shenhua, a coal-based energy provider, gained 1.8%
Construction company Tsun Yip Holdings surged 27% in today's Hong Kong IPO, while developers concentrating on projects in China gained: China Resource Land advanced 2% and Sino Land rose 1.3%.
China Green Holdings, an agricultural company that distributes fruit and vegetables, rallied 26% after finally filing earnings reports. The company's shares plunged last week after an auditor asked for more time to examine the accounts, spooking investors.
In China, breweries and distilleries were also on the rise. Kweichow Moutai, maker of China's national wine, according to Chinese Business World, skyrocketed 5.8%, and Tsingtao Brewery rose 4.1%.
Other gainers in China included commodity producers. Jiangxi Copper rose 5.4% and Baoshan Iron & Steel advanced 2.4% on high hopes that demand around the world will increase if international leaders succeed in shoring up their economies.