HONG KONG (MarketWatch)—Asian stocks ended a turbulent week on an upbeat note Friday, with the launch of Apple Inc.’s newest iPhone helping technology and telecom companies, while Japan Airlines Co. fell below its offer price as bilateral tensions between China and Japan weighed on airlines.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index /zigman2/quotes/210598030/delayed HK:HSI +0.32% ended 0.7% higher while the Shanghai Composite Index /zigman2/quotes/206600939/delayed CN:000001 +1.25% gained 0.1%, moving off the multiyear lows it hit when it plunged 2.1% on Thursday.
The Nikkei Stock Average /zigman2/quotes/210597971/delayed JP:NIK -0.45% gained 0.3%, South Korea’s Kospi /zigman2/quotes/210598069/delayed KR:180721 +0.16% climbed 0.6% and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index /zigman2/quotes/210598100/delayed AU:XJO +0.57% advanced 0.3%.
In a notable exception to the uptrend, the Shenzhen Composite index eased 0.7%. The Asia Dow was up 0.9% at 2,791.
Louis Capital Markets head of Japanese equities Ben Collette in Hong Kong said he expected more turbulent times in the weeks ahead as China nears its once-in-a-decade leadership transition.
“Uncertainly over China is based on leadership ... and that’s what is going to stop the market from going higher,” Collette said.
Among the highlights of the past seven days has been the reappearance of Xi Jingpin, China’s presumed leader-in-waiting, who toured a university campus Saturday and met U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on Wednesday—helping to create a sense of normalcy after a two-week unexplained absence from the public eye.
Strong performers on Friday included Sharp Corp. /zigman2/quotes/203224600/delayed JP:6753 +4.10% /zigman2/quotes/207472799/composite SHCAF +5.20% , jumping 5% in Tokyo after the Mainichi Shimbun reported that the cash-strapped firm is in talks with Intel Corp. /zigman2/quotes/203649727/composite INTC +0.71% for a capital tie-up, including a cash injection of about $380 million.
The share gains stuck, even after Sharp denied the report. See: Sharp shares jump on Intel report despite denial.
Sharp also supplies components to Apple /zigman2/quotes/202934861/composite AAPL +0.54% , which launched its eagerly-anticipated new iPhone 5 in key markets across the world Friday. Follow MarketWatch streaming coverage of the Apple iPhone launch.
Japan Airlines Co. /zigman2/quotes/202202214/delayed JP:9201 -1.66% fell 4.3% to end below its initial offer price in its third trading session since debuting in Tokyo, after the company said it is having to cancel flights to China amid the anti-Japanese protests.
Hong Kong-listed China Eastern Airlines /zigman2/quotes/203578936/delayed HK:670 -2.10% ended 1.6% lower after saying it will postpone the introduction of a new Japan route owing to low demand.
Apple’s Chinese partners and mobile-service providers, which won’t be offering the new iPhone for a few more months on the mainland, gained ground.
In Hong Kong trading, China Telecom Corp. /zigman2/quotes/206668971/delayed HK:728 -3.32% rose 1.8% and China Unicom Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/205091392/delayed HK:762 -3.33% /zigman2/quotes/205476740/composite CHU +10.24% gained 1.9%.
SmarTone Telecommunications Holdings Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/207924608/delayed HK:315 +1.40% moved 2.3% higher in Hong Kong.
“SmarTone is the only [Hong Kong firm] that can provide 4G services smoothly at the moment,” said Peter Lai, director at DBS Vickers, talking about share-price reaction to the launch of the new iPhone.