HONG KONG (MarketWatch) — Japanese stocks ended at a seven-month high Monday, further stretching a recent rally that has been inspired by a weakened yen, while Chinese and South Korean shares slipped on caution ahead of a Eurogroup meeting on financial aid for Greece.
The Nikkei Stock Average /zigman2/quotes/210597971/delayed JP:NIK -3.34% , which had already risen in six of the seven sessions prior to Friday’s holiday, rose 0.2% in Tokyo to end at 9,388.94, a closing level it hasn’t seen since late April.
Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 index /zigman2/quotes/210598100/delayed AU:XJO -1.60% gained 0.3% and Taiwan’s Taiex added 1.1%, building on Friday’s 3.1% surge on the local government’s pledge to support the local market after a dismal performance in the year to date.
Chinese shares started the week on a muted note, with Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index /zigman2/quotes/210598030/delayed HK:HSI +0.27% down 0.2% and the Shanghai Composite Index /zigman2/quotes/206600939/delayed CN:000001 -1.25% losing 0.5%, while South Korea’s Kospi /zigman2/quotes/210598069/delayed KR:180721 +1.18% slipped 0.2%.
Softbank 'talking dog' ads are a hit in Japan
SoftBank Mobile's bizarre, award-winning TV commercials, featuring a mixed-race family with a talking white dog as the father, have helped grow the company's mobile-phone business.
The mixed performance came as euro-zone finance ministers were set to reconvene, after failing to approve Greece’s latest tranche of aid last week. Ahead of the meeting, traders had “some doubts about the significance of the strong rally in U.S. markets on Friday,” given that it took place in holiday-thinned trading, said Ric Spooner, chief market analyst at CMC Markets.
“In these circumstances, many traders prefer a cautious stance, waiting to see if the market can hold these gains once [U.S.] trading returns to normal this week,” Spooner said.
Signs that U.S. retail sales could gather momentum going into the holiday season and optimism that the global economic backdrop was improving buoyed Wall Street on Friday. Read: U.S. stocks rally to strong weekly gains.
• MarketWatch Topics: Middle East
• Asia Markets | Europe Markets | Lat. Am.
• Canadian Markets | Israel Stocks | London
• U.S.: Market Snapshot | After Hours
• Latin American and Canadian indexes
• European indexes | Asian indexes
More on the Markets
• Global Economic Calendar
• Bond Report | Oil News | Earnings Watch
• Currencies | U.S. Economic Calendar
Monday’s Japanese stock gains followed a 3.8% advance for the Nikkei Stock Average over the four trading days last week, as the yen weakened further. The dollar /zigman2/quotes/210561789/realtime/sampled USDJPY -0.1156% posted strong gains against the yen last week, and is up nearly 3% so far in November, amid hopes for more monetary-policy easing.
Just ahead of the stock-market open on Monday, the Japanese central bank released the minutes of its Oct. 30 policy meeting — a meeting at which it decided to expand its asset-buying program — with the language underlining plans to “undertake further aggressive monetary easing.”
The central bank stood pat at a subsequent meeting last week — minutes for which have yet to be released — though it hinted more easing was to come. Bank of Japan stands pat but hints at more easing.
Japan’s major exporters got a boost as the euro /zigman2/quotes/210561215/realtime/sampled EURJPY -0.3078% broke above the 107-yen level early Monday to hit a seven-month high against the Japanese currency, before later falling back to ¥106.62.
The dollar was changing hands for /zigman2/quotes/210561789/realtime/sampled USDJPY -0.1156% ¥82.18, down from ¥82.35 Friday.
Tokyo-listed car makers were higher as well, with Toyota Motor Corp. /zigman2/quotes/203803129/delayed JP:7203 -3.36% /zigman2/quotes/200537742/composite TM -3.27% up 1.7%, Honda Motor Co. /zigman2/quotes/200490352/delayed JP:7267 -3.42% /zigman2/quotes/207173990/composite HMC -3.73% gaining 0.6%, and Nissan Motor Co. /zigman2/quotes/208298710/delayed JP:7201 -4.50% /zigman2/quotes/207656007/delayed NSANY -2.66% ahead by 2.3%.