Asian markets climbed higher Monday. In Hong Kong the Hang Seng Index rose 1.4% to 23,338 and in China the Shanghai Composite advanced 0.9% to 2,905. In Japan the Nikkei 225 Index added 0.9% to end the day at 10,624.
In Hong Kong, HSBC shares racked up a 1.5% gain before the company's announcement early today in London that it had missed earnings estimates. The banking giant's net income clocked in at $13.2 billion for 2010 -- over $7 billion more than the previous year, according to Bloomberg, but still below the $13.7 billion analysts expected.
In more disappointing news, HSBC's cost-efficiency ratio rose from 52% to 55.2%, a number that Chairman Douglas Flint called "unacceptable." Among the reasons the top brass gave for the gloomy report were rising staff costs and the Middle East situation, where HSBC has a major presence and used to operate under the names British Bank of the Middle East and Imperial Bank of Persia. The bank's shares are already falling in London in early trading.
Other banks also rose in Hong Kong with Bank of China surging 2.2%, Industrial & Commercial Bank of China soaring 1.9%, Agricultural Bank of China climbing 1.9% and China Construction Bank gaining 1.6%.
Hong Kong-listed developers climbed higher with Henderson Land shooting up 3%, Hang Lung advancing 1.7% and New World Development up 1.3%
Other big gainers included Great Wall Motor, which makes SUVs like the square-looking Coolbear and the Wingle pick-up truck. Shares rocketed up 6.7% after Nomura said new taxes wouldn't have much impact on the carmaker's business. There are also rumors that Great Wall could begin collaborating with Jaguar and Land Rover, reports China Daily. This would no doubt appeal to the Chinese consumer's hunger for the ultimate luxury products.
In Shanghai it was affordable housing that drove the market higher. Government plans to build more low-income housing boosted the value of cement-related companies like Sany Heavy, a maker of machinery for concrete construction. Today shares surged 8.5%. Changsha Zoomlion Heavy Industry Science & Technology Development, another concrete machinery firm, zipped up 4.7%, Huaxin Cement motored up 3% and Gansu Qilianshan Cement rose 2%.
The appliance sector also gained in China with GD Midea leaping 6.6%, Qingdao Haier rallying 6.3% and Gree climbing 5.4%.
In Japan Mizuho Securities jumped 12% on reports that its parent company is considering rolling it and its other subsidiaries into a wholly owned company. Mizuho Trust & Banking surged 6% and Mizuho Financial advanced 1.8%.
Among electronics exporters Pioneer gained 4.5%, Casio Computer leaped 4% and Sony added 0.9%. But the news was not so hot for Nintendo, which plunged 4.1% despite the debut of its much-hyped glasses-free 3DS, which hit Japanese shelves over the weekend. According to Nintendo, all 400,000 units in the first shipment sold out within hours, and the reviewers are raving. Computerandvideogames.com calls the gizmo, which will begin selling in the U.S. on March 27 for $250 each, "More than a little bit magical."