SYDNEY (MarketWatch) — Asian shares diverged Tuesday, as a rebound for Tepco and gains for Toyota helped support the Japanese market, but as Hong Kong shares fell prey to U.S. economic worries.
Japan’s Nikkei Stock Average /zigman2/quotes/210597971/delayed JP:NIK +1.27% ended 0.7% higher at 9,442.95, rubbing out some of Monday’s 1.2% loss.
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Toyota Motor Corp. /zigman2/quotes/203803129/delayed JP:7203 +2.14% /zigman2/quotes/200537742/composite TM +1.78% closed with a 2.2% gain after the Nikkei newspaper reported the company will hike output of its Prius hybrid by 70% due to strong demand. Read more on reported Toyota Prius output hike.
Japanese gainers also included Tokyo Electric Power Co. /zigman2/quotes/202771076/delayed JP:9501 -2.57% /zigman2/quotes/205839055/delayed TKECY -11.34% , better known as Tepco, which rose 4.4% — after trading limit-down a day earlier — after Japanese government chief spokesman Yukio Edano reportedly said Monday that authorities were trying to avoid bankruptcy for the company.
Other Japanese-listed power companies also staged a rebound on Tuesday, with Kansai Electric Power Co. /zigman2/quotes/200592152/delayed JP:9503 -0.79% and Chubu Electric Power Co. /zigman2/quotes/208115192/delayed JP:9502 -0.77% each up 2%.
Toshiba Corp. /zigman2/quotes/205628942/delayed JP:6502 +0.58% /zigman2/quotes/203922036/delayed TOSBF +0.92% added 3% and Sony Corp. /zigman2/quotes/201361720/delayed JP:6758 +1.19% fell 1.5% after a Nikkei report that the pair were in final negotiations to unify operations in LCD panels for smartphones, tablet computers and other mobile devices. Read more on reported Toshiba-Sony talks.
The move would create a firm expected to overtake Sharp Corp. /zigman2/quotes/203224600/delayed JP:6753 -0.28% /zigman2/quotes/207472799/delayed SHCAF -4.25% as the global leader for the panels, the report said. Sharp shares nonetheless closed higher, up 1.2%.
Hong Kong, Seoul
After a three-day weekend, Hong Kong investors were catching up to losses inspired by disappointing U.S. jobs data at the end of last week.
“I think there’s just concern about the U.S. and the global recovery. That’s probably the key thing,” said Andrew Sullivan, director of institutional sales at OSK Securities.
“For short-term retail traders, when you get a very volatile market, it’s going to be tricky,” he said. “For the long, mutual funds that have done their due diligence and monitored the companies closely, any weakness like that provides a bit of long-term opportunity.”
The Hang Seng Index /zigman2/quotes/210598030/delayed HK:HSI +2.96% still managed to move off early-morning lows to end down 0.4% at 22,868.6.
Some shares sensitive to global growth held onto losses, such as shipper Cosco Pacific Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/201167312/delayed HK:1199 -1.72% /zigman2/quotes/207591135/delayed CSPKF +1.01% , which closed down 2%.
HSBC Holdings /zigman2/quotes/202687335/delayed HK:5 +1.89% slipped 0.2% after Credit Suisse cut its rating on the stock to neutral from outperform.
Previously announced changes to the Hang Seng Index went into effect Tuesday, with AIA Group Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/203565558/delayed HK:1299 +4.19% /zigman2/quotes/201974019/delayed AAIGF +1.00% joining the blue-chip index and Foxconn International Holdings Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/205017351/delayed HK:2038 +7.53% /zigman2/quotes/207122890/delayed FXCNF -2.86% departing.
AIA lost 1.6%, and Foxconn traded down 2.3%. Hengan International Group Co. /zigman2/quotes/205777105/delayed HK:1044 +2.57% /zigman2/quotes/206643687/delayed HEGIF -3.33% , which also joined the index Tuesday, recovered from an early loss to rise 0.3%.
The Shanghai Composite /zigman2/quotes/206600939/delayed CN:000001 +2.74% had a better post-holiday return, ending with a 0.6% gain.
South Korea’s Kospi, which was also closed on Monday, lost 0.7% on Tuesday, with Hyundai Motor Co. /zigman2/quotes/206718996/delayed HYMLF 0.00% shares down 1.5%
Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 index /zigman2/quotes/210598100/delayed AU:XJO +1.15% pared early losses after the Reserve Bank of Australia kept its key cash rate on hold at 4.75%, but still ended down 0.1%, at 4,566.30. Read more on Australia’s interest-rate decision.
Weaker commodity prices weighed on Australian-listed miners and energy firms, with Alumina Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/210515632/delayed AU:AWC +0.60% closing down 1.4%, Fortescue Metals Group Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/202351558/delayed AU:FMG +3.87% /zigman2/quotes/204116626/delayed FSUMF +2.40% falling 2%, and Woodside Petroleum Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/203437212/delayed AU:WPL -3.75% /zigman2/quotes/206770672/delayed WOPEF -3.78% down 1.2%. Read more on oil’s decline.
However, airline Virgin Blue Holdings Ltd. bucked the lower trend, rallying 3.5% after the firm said that it will enter into a code-sharing deal with Singapore Airlines Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/208369943/delayed SG:C6L +1.67% /zigman2/quotes/203950588/delayed SINGF -0.64% . See report on Singapore Airline-Virgin Australia deal.
U.S. shares lost ground for the fourth day in a row Monday, as investors fretted about the state of the U.S. economy following last week’s run of disappointing data that culminated in a very weak jobs number on Friday. Read more on U.S, stock action on Monday.
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke was slated to make a speech on the U.S. economy later in the global trading day on Tuesday. Read preview of Bernanke's speech.