HONG KONG (MarketWatch)—Asian stocks rose broadly on Wednesday, taking their cue from stronger U.S. stocks overnight.
Japan’s Nikkei Average /zigman2/quotes/210597971/delayed JP:NIK +2.32% closed 0.2% higher, marking the fifth consecutive session of gains. The broader Topix index /zigman2/quotes/210598092/delayed JP:180460 +1.86% rose 0.3%, while the dollar weakened against the yen /zigman2/quotes/210561789/realtime/sampled USDJPY -0.1069% , buying ¥101.874 compared with ¥101.975 on Tuesday.
Hong Kong’s benchmark Hang Seng Index /zigman2/quotes/210598030/delayed HK:HSI +1.11% recovered its losses from the previous day, closing up 0.6%. The Shanghai Composite Index /zigman2/quotes/210598127/delayed CN:SHCOMP +1.77% advanced 0.8%.
Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 /zigman2/quotes/210598100/delayed AU:XJO +0.45% settled with a 0.3% gain, while the Aussie /zigman2/quotes/210560947/realtime/sampled AUDUSD +0.6340% softened to 92.47 U.S. cents from 92.61 U.S. cents in the prior session.
Trending in Asia: Thai coup d’etat, Japan psychopath
It is perhaps no surprise the region and much of the world were searching for the latest information on Thailand’s recent coup d’etat. Joyce Hau, Communications Senior Associate at Google Asia-Pacific, has the details in this week’s Trending in Asia.
Meanwhile, South Korea’s Kospi index /zigman2/quotes/210598069/delayed KR:180721 +1.00% finished the day with a solid gain of 1%, and Taiwan’s Taiex index rose for a fifth day in a row, ending up 0.7%.
In Japan, top gainers included semiconductor maker Renesas Electronics Corp., which /zigman2/quotes/203872935/delayed JP:6723 +3.68% jumped 4.9%. Construction firm Obayashi Corp. /zigman2/quotes/202197670/delayed JP:1802 +3.31% climbed 3.4%, rival Kajima Corp. /zigman2/quotes/206026698/delayed JP:1812 +2.65% gained 2.5%, and consumer electronics giant Toshiba Corp. /zigman2/quotes/205628942/delayed JP:6502 +0.89% moved up 2%.
However, Mitsui Fudosan Co. /zigman2/quotes/205394574/delayed JP:8801 +1.29% , one of Japan’s largest property developers, sank 4.7%, after the firm announced a plan to sell as many as 110 million shares to raise around 325 billion yen ($3.2 billion).
In Hong Kong, Chinese insurers and banks were strong, as China Life Insurance /zigman2/quotes/202359856/delayed HK:2628 +3.11% rallied 3%, China Merchants Bank /zigman2/quotes/209899244/delayed HK:3968 +4.26% rose 1.7%, ICBC /zigman2/quotes/201401473/delayed HK:1398 +0.81% added 1.6%, and Agricultural Bank of China /zigman2/quotes/200705246/delayed HK:1288 +0.99% tacked on 1.5%.
China’s profit growth eases a bit
It seems that profit is still expanding at China’s top industrial companies, though that growth is slowing a bit as the metals sector suffers.
China released its monthly report on industrial profit, covering the largest firms, and the numbers show earnings rose 1.1% in April. Compared with a year earlier, profit was 9.6% higher last month, though that marked a slowing from March’s 10.7%.
Much of the profit data are reported on a year-to-date basis, and the January-April figure was 10% higher from a year earlier, undershooting the 12.2% gain for all of 2013.
Looking at the report’s details, it seems metals firms were the weak link.
For the first four months of this year, earnings from coal mining and processing were down almost 45% from the same period last year, while non-ferrous-metal mining and processing dropped 15%.
Much of this appears to be about to capacity-cutting as China gets tough with high-polluting industries.
As for the ferrous-metal category, it saw a 7.2% hit, likely tied to the sharp drop in iron-ore prices.