Asian markets ended higher Monday, as higher raw-material prices boosted Tokyo shares while mainland China surged on bargain-hunting.
In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 Stock Average rose 1.2% to 13450.23, led higher by rising raw-material prices.
Commodity shares were Monday's notable gainers after gold and oil rose Friday. Nippon Mining Holdings rose 8.9%, Sumitomo Metal Mining /zigman2/quotes/205273301/delayed JP:5713 -1.88% added 5.8% and trading house Mitsui & Co. /zigman2/quotes/205346820/delayed JP:8031 -0.27% gained 8.5%. Gold futures closed in New York at $913.20, $3.60 higher than the day before, and crude oil futures closed 2.3% higher at $106.23.
High-tech shares rallied as the yen weakened against the dollar to ¥102.68. Sony /zigman2/quotes/201361720/delayed JP:6758 +0.62% gained 2.6%, Casio /zigman2/quotes/202492162/delayed JP:6952 -0.05% rose 3.4% and Toshiba /zigman2/quotes/205628942/delayed JP:6502 -1.72% added 3.8%. However, steel shares were weaker, dragged down by a 3.4% decline in Nippon Steel /zigman2/quotes/209782682/delayed JP:5401 +2.52% on concerns the company will likely agree to a proposed increase in coal prices by BHP Billiton. JFE Holdings /zigman2/quotes/204336633/delayed JP:5411 +2.68% fell 1.9%.
Meanwhile, bargain-hunting boosted the mainland Shanghai Composite Index, which tracks both Class A and Class B shares, 4.5% higher to 3599.62.
Brokerages and metal firms surged on rotational bargain hunting. Haitong Securities surged by the maximum daily limit of 10% after dropping 54.1% over the past five months, while Northeast Securities also rose limit-up after falling 65.1% over the same period.
Among metal companies, Aluminum Corp. of China also rose by the 10% daily-trading limit after dropping 55.8% over the past five months, while Jiangxi Copper did the same, having fallen 59.9% over the same period.
PetroChina's 4.6% gain on high oil prices also supported the market. "As PetroChina has stopped dragging down the Shanghai index, investors are more likely to bargain hunt because the overall numbers don't look so horrible," said Capital Securities strategist Amy Lin. PetroChina has a 20% weighting in the Shanghai index.
Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index rose 1.3% to 24578.76, as locally-listed Chinese insurers tracked the mainland's gains. The insurers led blue-chip gains, with Ping An /zigman2/quotes/210315058/delayed HK:2318 -1.56% , China's second-largest insurer after China Life Insurance /zigman2/quotes/202359856/delayed HK:2628 -6.09% , jumping 5.2%. China Life Insurance rose 3.4%. Hong Kong Exchanges /zigman2/quotes/200234512/delayed HK:388 -5.72% , the stock-market operator often seen as a market-performance proxy, advanced 2.6%.
Chinese ports investor Cosco Pacific /zigman2/quotes/201167312/delayed HK:1199 -0.71% surged 6% after it posted a 47% rise in net profit for 2007, helped by the sale of its stake in a Hong Kong lender and strong demand for container ports.
In Seoul, the Korea Composite Stock Price Index managed to end 0.4% higher at 1773.56 after heavy program buying weakened broader advances. The program buying, the day's main market-moving factor, "seemed to have weakened investor sentiment at the end of the session today" amid a lack of positive momentum, said Korea Investment & Securities analyst Kim Hak Kyoon.
Construction shares led the overall gains. Hyundai Engineering & Construction gained 3.6% while Daelim Industrial rose 1.9%. Shipbuilding stocks extended advances, with investors expecting good first-quarter earnings after a rise in new vessel orders this year. Hyundai Heavy Industrial ended 1.5% higher.
While most technology stocks fell on profit-taking, LG Electronics ended 0.7% higher on expectations of stronger earnings growth than its competitors, said analysts.
Elsewhere, Australia's benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index closed up 0.1% at 5625.0 while Taiwan's Weighted Index gained 1.55% to 8729.79 points. In late trading, Singapore's Straits Times Index was up 0.37% at 3167.23 and Mumbai's Bombay Sensex Index was up 2.87% at 15782.99.
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