HONG KONG (MarketWatch) — Asia markets rose Tuesday, with Japan stocks boosted by a solid rally in banks, although Hong Kong shares lagged behind, weighed by Industrial & Commercial Bank of China Ltd. after Goldman Sachs Group Inc. pared its stake in the lender.
Japan’s Nikkei Stock Average /zigman2/quotes/210597971/delayed JP:NIK -4.56% rose 0.4% and South Korea’s Kospi /zigman2/quotes/210598069/delayed KR:180721 -3.37% climbed 0.8%, while Taiwan’s Taiex jumped 1.1%.
Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 /zigman2/quotes/210598100/delayed AU:XJO -3.25% also jumped 1.1%, rising for the ninth straight session to finish at 21-month highs, as the market reopened after Monday’s holiday.
Stocks on track for best month since October 2011
Weakness in materials stocks weighed on the Dow Jones Industrial Average, as markets awaited earnings from Yahoo.
China’s Shanghai Composite /zigman2/quotes/206600939/delayed CN:000001 -3.24% edged up 0.5%, extending its sharp rally from Monday, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index /zigman2/quotes/210598030/delayed HK:HSI -2.58% slipped 0.1%.
The broad advances in Asia came even as U.S. stocks ended mostly lower Monday, as mixed economic data prompted a bit of selling after recent gains. Read: S&P 500 snaps 8-session winning streak.
“Risk sentiment remained relatively unchanged as markets took a breather following the recent run. However, there were some positives to take out of the U.S. session, with durable goods orders coming in well ahead of expectations,” said Stan Shamu, strategist at IG Markets.
The advance in Japan was fronted by the banking sector, with Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group Inc. /zigman2/quotes/203656770/delayed JP:8316 -1.93% /zigman2/quotes/206471416/composite SMFG -2.48% jumping 4.4%, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc. /zigman2/quotes/207520099/delayed JP:8306 -2.96% climbing 3.8% and Mizuho Financial Group Inc. /zigman2/quotes/204507985/delayed JP:8411 -3.10% /zigman2/quotes/200950467/composite MFG -2.20% rising 2.9%.
The Nikkei reported that the recent rally for the Japanese market will lift profits at the banks, which are shareholders in some of the companies that have seen sharp share price gains. Higher stock prices have also pushed up commissions from sales of investment trusts and other products, the report said.
The firm reported late Monday that its quarterly net profit almost doubled from a year earlier, due in part to the popularity of smartphones. The company also raised its fiscal-year smartphone sales target to 8.45 million units from a previous forecast of 8 million units.
Technology shares advanced, tracking the outperformance for their U.S. peers on Wall Street Monday. Consumer electronics giant Samsung Electronics Co. /zigman2/quotes/209800866/delayed KR:005930 -2.68% /zigman2/quotes/202367843/delayed SSNLF 0.00% rose 2.7% in Seoul, while Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. /zigman2/quotes/207256514/delayed TW:2317 -0.99% added 1.6% in Taipei.
In Hong Kong, shares of ICBC /zigman2/quotes/201401473/delayed HK:1398 -1.83% /zigman2/quotes/202401350/delayed IDCBY +0.62% , China’s largest lender by assets, fell 2.2% on news Goldman Sachs had on Monday launched the sale of $1 billion worth of the lender’s Hong Kong listed shares, further paring its holding in the Chinese bank. Read report on Goldman Sachs raising $1 bln from ICBC sale.
Australian investors were also buying into stocks considered less leveraged to economic growth trends, with blood products group CSL Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/206911412/delayed AU:CSL -2.54% up 3.7% and Cochlear Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/203271998/delayed AU:COH -0.60% /zigman2/quotes/209002763/delayed CHEOY -4.30% higher by 0.9% in the health care sector.
“The uptrend in [Australian] defensive stocks again can be correlated to the sell-off in bonds. With further interest rate cuts ‘expected,’ investors are scrambling to shore up income,” said Shamu at IG Markets.
Miners lagged, however, with gold miners particularly weak. Perseus Mining Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/205179925/delayed AU:PRU -16.53% /zigman2/quotes/202190906/delayed PMNXF -5.00% declined 3.7% and OceanaGold Corp. /zigman2/quotes/202451224/delayed AU:OGC -9.09% /zigman2/quotes/203409917/delayed OCANF -2.23% fell 5.2%.