By V. Phani Kumar, MarketWatch , Shri Navaratnam and Ga-Woon Philip Vahn
HONG KONG (MarketWatch) — Japanese shares rose Monday as exporters got a lift from a weakened yen, while energy producers such as PetroChina Co. pressured Hong Kong stocks as crude-oil prices dipped.
Japan’s Nikkei Stock Average /zigman2/quotes/210597971/delayed JP:NIK +1.70% and South Korea’s Kospi each rose 0.5%, while Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 /zigman2/quotes/210598100/delayed AU:XJO +1.88% inched up 0.1%, with gains capped by profit warnings and weak retail-sales data.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index /zigman2/quotes/210598030/delayed HK:HSI +2.00% fell 1.5%.
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Sentiment was aided in some regional markets by Wall Street’s rise Friday, and an unexpected drop in the U.S. jobless rate for January. While nonfarm payrolls rose a less-than-expected 36,000 last month, markets took the drop in the unemployment rate to 9.0% from 9.4% as a better sign for the depressed labor market.
“The market is in a comfortable situation right now where the [U.S. Federal Reserve’s] quantitative-easing policy will continue even as the U.S. economy is on a moderate recovery trend,” said Takashi Ushio, general manager at Marusan Securities.
In afternoon trading, India’s Sensex rose 0.4%, while Singapore’s Straits Times index slid 0.6%, Thailand’s SET index edged down 0.6% and Indonesian shares slipped 0.2%.
Markets in China, Taiwan and Vietnam remained shut on account of last week’s Lunar New Year holiday.
Dow Jones Industrial Average /zigman2/quotes/210598065/realtime DJIA +0.38% futures were off three points in screen trade.
Japanese stock gains were helped as the yen weakened further against the U.S. dollar, with Nikon Corp. /zigman2/quotes/209396469/composite NINOY +1.86% /zigman2/quotes/203281219/delayed JP:7731 +2.20% Olympus Corp. /zigman2/quotes/200860615/delayed JP:7733 +0.41% /zigman2/quotes/206207642/composite OCPNY -0.81% and Toyota Motor Corp. /zigman2/quotes/200537742/composite TM +1.64% /zigman2/quotes/203803129/delayed JP:7203 +3.30% rising 2%, 1% and 0.9%, respectively.
Shares of Nippon Steel Corp. /zigman2/quotes/209782682/delayed JP:5401 +5.75% fell 1.3% and Sumitomo Metal Industries gave up 2.2% on profit taking after last week’s sharp gains on news the two planned a merger.
Shares of Sapporo Holdings /zigman2/quotes/200413497/delayed JP:2501 +4.22% , which had also risen 6.2% in an upbeat market on Friday, erased early gains to finish 0.5% lower, despite media reports that the company planned to buy a controlling stake in soft-drink maker Pokka Corp.
Inpex Corp. /zigman2/quotes/206936121/composite IPXHF -2.21% /zigman2/quotes/206689846/delayed JP:1605 +1.73% , meanwhile, rose 0.7% after the energy producer lifted its full-year profit outlook late Friday.
But energy producers declined in Hong Kong, after crude-oil prices fell sharply in New York on Friday, amid reports the U.S. government was pressuring Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to resign. Shares of Cnooc /zigman2/quotes/204964401/composite CEO +3.51% /zigman2/quotes/203421416/delayed HK:883 +2.94% dropped 2.9%, PetroChina Co. /zigman2/quotes/204979431/delayed HK:857 +1.52% /zigman2/quotes/205108732/composite PTR +2.04% tumbled 3.6% and China Petroleum & Chemical Corp., or Sinopec /zigman2/quotes/202783176/composite SNP +2.21% /zigman2/quotes/202085942/delayed HK:386 +1.21% shed 4.2%.
“Encouraging economic data, particularly in the U.S., have helped to shield markets to some extent... the main impact of Egypt and Middle East contagion continues to be felt on oil prices, although we believe this will be short-lived,” Credit Agricole said in a note to clients.