Asian Markets Up on Improved U.S. Employment Numbers

Shares in Asia rose Monday. In Japan the Nikkei 225 Index advanced 1.1% to 9,733 and in China the Shanghai Composite Index climbed 1% to 3,160. In Hong Kong the Hang Seng Index inched up 0.4% to close at 24,963.

Japanese exporters were among today's big winners benefiting from both a drop in the value of the yen, which fell to 81.41 against the dollar, and a bit of good news in the U.S. job market. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, 151,000 folks were added to payrolls in October, not including figures for farm workers. However, these newly employed did nothing to change the overall unemployment rate, which still stands at a whopping 9.6%. Are investors banking on the newly employed heading straight out to buy a new Prius?

Japanese carmakers rose today since the lower yen increases their take-home profits from sales abroad. It also looks like car sales are on the up-and-up since 6,000 of those new jobs were added in car dealerships. Today Fuji Heavy Industries, maker of the trusty Subaru, motored up 6.6%. According to The Japan Times, Fuji Heavy has plans to team up with Toyota (already a major Fuji Heavy shareholder) to launch a plug-in hybrid vehicle that can be plugged into a normal household socket rather than a special power point. Other auto companies also made headway with Isuzu rallying 4.7% and Honda soaring 3.3%. Nissan and Mazda both climbed 2% and Toyota advanced 1.2%.

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Electronics exporters also got a boost with Sharp shooting up 2.7%, Casio Computer surging 2.3%, Sony rising 1.1% and Canon adding 0.5%

Komatsu rose the most among Japan's heavy construction machinery makers, gaining 4.7%, while Ebara, which makes pneumatic and hydraulic pumps tumbled 7.2% on declining sales.

Commodities firm JX Holdings leaped 6.3% after raising its annual net income forecast by 19%, according to Bloomberg. Mitsubishi Corp., a commodities trader, edged up 0.4%.

In China steelmakers gained with Baoshan Iron & Steel surging 3.8%, Wuhan Iron & Steel gaining 3.1% and Maanshan Iron & Steel advancing 2.5%. Meanwhile, gold producers closed lower thanks to a stronger dollar wooing investors away from metals and back into other equities. Zijin Mining slid 0.7%, Shandong Gold slipped 0.3%. Even so, gold hit a new record of $1,398.60 in today's trading.

Medical-related shares were among other big winners in China, Nanjing Xingang High-Tech hit the 10% daily limit. Its businesses range from power generation to pharmaceuticals. Beijing Wandong Medical Equipment, a maker of health care machinery including X-ray machines and dental equipment rocketed up 6% and China National Medicines rose 3.9%.

In Hong Kong, news that China Merchants Holdings, an investor in shipping ports, unveiled plans to expand into Nigeria sent its shares climbing 3.6%. Shipping companies also rose with Cosco and Cosco Pacific both gaining 1.5% and China Shipping Development rising 1.1%.

Another big gainer on the Hong Kong exchange was Lumena Resources, which announced plans to purchase nearly all of Sino Polymer New Materials. Through a complicated chemical process, the company will be able to combine the capabilities of the fluorescent thenardite it already mines and produces with the resins made by Sino Polymer for a variety of purposes including emissions reduction in cars.

Meanwhile, BYD, Hong Kong's great hope in battery-run cars, zipped up 5%. The company plunged last month on dismal sales and is slowly creeping back. Guangzhou Automobile shot up 7.5%, Great Wall Motors racked up a 2.8% gain and Geely climbed 1.9%. These are numbers you might expect to see considering that the China Association of Automobile Manfacturers expects sales of passenger cars in China to ramp up to 17 million this year. That's 25% more vehicles than the industry sold last year.