By V. Phani Kumar, MarketWatch , Colin Ng and Puja Rajeev
HONG KONG (MarketWatch) — Most Asian stock markets ended higher Thursday as a rosy outlook for 2011, a weaker U.S. dollar and firmer metal prices aided sentiment and spurred purchases of risk assets.
Amid light end-of-year trading volume, resource-sector shares led the advance in Shanghai and Sydney, while banks rose in Hong Kong. But Japanese shares were lower as worries about the yen’s strength against the dollar lingered.
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Teachers are a prime target for militants in south Thailand because they're seen as a symbol of government authority. Video courtesy of AFP.
“In the coming year, we are very positive on the market — not because of the revival of the economy, but mainly due to the QE2 and the crazy printing of money, which has resulted in hot money inflows,” said Peter Lai, a director at DBS Vickers, referring to the U.S. Federal Reserve’s latest quantitative easing program.
He said emerging markets as well as asset classes such as commodities, equities and property will benefit as “investors realize the value of the dollar is diminishing.”
China’s Shanghai Composite /zigman2/quotes/210598127/delayed CN:SHCOMP +2.07% , Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 /zigman2/quotes/210598100/delayed AU:XJO -0.32% and New Zealand’s NZX 50 each gained 0.3%, South Korea’s Kospi added 0.4%, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index /zigman2/quotes/210598030/delayed HK:HSI +0.47% rose 0.1% and Taiwan’s Taiex advanced 0.5%.
In afternoon trade, India’s Sensex added 0.5% and Singapore’s Straits Times Index climbed 0.3%.
Dow Jones Industrial Average /zigman2/quotes/210598065/realtime DJIA -0.88% futures were up 8 points in screen trade.
Japan’s Nikkei Stock Average /zigman2/quotes/210597971/delayed JP:NIK +0.18% declined 1.1%, as shares of exporters fell. Tokyo Electron /zigman2/quotes/202883609/delayed JP:8035 +0.32% /zigman2/quotes/206919677/delayed TOELY -0.53% dropped 1.3%, Mazda Motor /zigman2/quotes/206326885/delayed MZDAY +0.33% /zigman2/quotes/204777714/delayed JP:7261 +0.63% fell 1.3% and Honda Motor /zigman2/quotes/207173990/composite HMC -0.84% /zigman2/quotes/200490352/delayed JP:7267 +0.89% gave up 1.2%.
“Today’s trading is symbolic of the entire year, dominated by selling on a stronger yen,” said Norihiro Fujito, a senior investment strategist at Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities.
There were also a few gainers in Tokyo. Consumer lender Orient Corp. /zigman2/quotes/208396673/delayed JP:8585 -0.86% jumped 9.2% on a Nikkei report that Mizuho Financial Group planned to purchase Orient’s preferred shares from Morgan Stanley and two others.
Hitachi /zigman2/quotes/203839937/delayed JP:6501 -0.38% rose 1.9% following a Yomiuri Shimbun report it will jointly bid with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries for a railway construction project in Bangkok. Mitsubishi Heavy /zigman2/quotes/202419396/delayed JP:7011 +0.04% dropped 1.3%.
Promise rose 3.1% on a local media report that Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group President Teisuke Kitayama signaled in an interview the bank may raise its 21% stake in the consumer lender. Sumitomo Mitsui /zigman2/quotes/206471416/composite SMFG 0.00% /zigman2/quotes/203656770/delayed JP:8316 +0.13% fell 1.9%.
Mining and metal shares helped lift Australian and Chinese markets, in particular helping Shanghai stocks erase losses posted earlier in the day.
Jiangxi Copper /zigman2/quotes/204256025/delayed JIXAY +37.29% /zigman2/quotes/201334192/delayed CN:600362 +6.67% added 3.5% and Zhongjin Gold /zigman2/quotes/207741711/delayed CN:600489 +1.89% rose 1.5% in Shanghai, while BHP Billiton /zigman2/quotes/201448516/delayed AU:BHP +1.31% /zigman2/quotes/208108397/composite BHP -1.41% and Fortescue Metals Group /zigman2/quotes/202351558/delayed AU:FMG +0.99% rose 0.9% and 1%, respectively, in Sydney.
David Land, a trader at CMC Markets, said miners were perhaps oversold Wednesday on concerns that China will continue to raise rates.