By Ese Erheriene
Equities markets mostly began November on a strong note after big gains in October, but New Zealand stocks were a noted laggard even with a much-stronger-than-expected jobs report.
The NZX-50 /zigman2/quotes/211587880/delayed NZ:NZ50GR -1.58% , which logged 17 record closing highs last month, was down 1.3% in midafternoon trading, weighed by some stocks heavily weighted on the index. That included formula-maker a2 Milk /zigman2/quotes/207461975/delayed NZ:ATM -1.13% , which was recently 11% lower to cut the year’s surge to 262%. That stock was hit by a disclosure late Tuesday that Colonial First State Asset Management, a big shareholder, had cut its stake by a percentage point to 5.4% in an apparent profit-taking move.
Fletcher Building /zigman2/quotes/200215142/delayed NZ:FBU +0.93% , which has been recently beaten down by concerns about its buildings-and-interiors division, fell another 3.8%, hitting another 20-month low.
The New Zealand dollar was lifted by news third-quarter unemployment fell to its lowest level since the global financial crisis. The kiwi was 0.5% stronger at US$0.6883 after earlier hitting its best level in nearly a week.
More broadly, a flurry of strong earnings and continued bullish sentiment for riskier global assets has provided a floor for stock markets globally. “We’re seeing buying as there’s so much good news on the economic side of things and the earnings side of things,” said Chris Weston, chief market strategist at IG Group.
The Nikkei Stock Average /zigman2/quotes/210597971/delayed JP:NIK -0.79% jumped 1.5%, reaching fresh 21-year highs, after it logged its best month in two years in October. A softer yen helped, with the dollar /zigman2/quotes/210561418/realtime/sampled JPYUSD -0.2094% at ¥113.90 versus ¥113.15 when local stock trading finished Tuesday.
Earnings are a big factor, with Sony /zigman2/quotes/201361720/delayed JP:6758 -1.57% surging 10% to a nine-year high after strong demand for PlayStation 4 videogame consoles and image sensors for iPhone cameras helped the firm notch another quarter of solid profits.
Tech was also helping Korean stocks, with the Kospi /zigman2/quotes/210598069/delayed KR:180721 -1.28% up 1.1% as Samsung /zigman2/quotes/209800866/delayed KR:005930 -2.42% also hit fresh record highs with a 3.5% rise. Australia’s benchmark /zigman2/quotes/210598100/delayed AU:XJO -2.31% , meanwhile, rose 0.7% to nearly eclipse 2017’s high and Taiwan’s tech-heavy Taiex climbed 0.3%.
The buying came ahead of the Federal Reserve policy statement later on Wednesday. The anticipation of Fed statements usually cause some uncertainty but Rob Carnell, head of Asia research at ING, said: “The FOMC meeting itself will be a nonevent, save for any attempt to ‘tee-up’ the December meeting for a rate hike.”
Oil futures were roughly 0.5% higher in Asia trade, adding to Tuesday’s gains, after a reading from the American Petroleum Institute showed a much-bigger decline in U.S. crude and gasoline inventories for last week that what is expected in the government report later on Wednesday.
Crude’s strength helped Asian oil stocks, with Japan Petroleum /zigman2/quotes/201212147/delayed JP:1662 -1.69% up 2.5% and Australia’s Santos /zigman2/quotes/207349564/delayed AU:STO -3.23% climbing 1.7%.