MUMBAI (MarketWatch) — Chinese stocks led an advance for most Asia markets on Thursday, although South Korean shares bucked the higher trend as investors returned from a one-day elections break.
China’s Shanghai Composite /zigman2/quotes/206600939/delayed CN:000001 -0.06% jumped 1.8%, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index /zigman2/quotes/210598030/delayed HK:HSI -1.09% traded up 0.9%, Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 index /zigman2/quotes/210598100/delayed AU:XJO -0.33% added 0.8% and Japan’s Nikkei Stock Average /zigman2/quotes/210597971/delayed JP:NIK -0.39% added 0.7%.
Stocks rebound to end 5-day slide
Stocks bounced back from a recent string of losses, after a strong start to the corporate-earnings season and a drop in Spanish and Italian government borrowing rates.
South Korea’s Kospi /zigman2/quotes/210598069/delayed KR:180721 -1.49% lost 0.4% as investors played catch-up after a one-day break for elections -- which saw the ruling conservative party retain power.
Property firms were among the gainers in mainland China, with China Vanke Co. rising 2.2% and Poly Real Estate Group Co. /zigman2/quotes/201864015/delayed CN:600048 -1.98% up 1.6%.
In Hong Kong, China Resources Land Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/202417326/delayed HK:1109 -1.26% /zigman2/quotes/201656413/delayed CRBJF +5.00% jumped 3.3% and Guangzhou R&F Properties Co. /zigman2/quotes/200033596/delayed HK:2777 -1.41% /zigman2/quotes/206698750/delayed GZUHF -13.97% added 2%.
In the financial sector, Bank of China Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/204682472/delayed HK:3988 -0.93% /zigman2/quotes/201568493/delayed BACHY +0.10% rose 1.9% and New China Life Insurance Co. /zigman2/quotes/204761736/delayed CN:601336 -0.87% rallied 3.3%.
The World Bank trimmed its growth forecast for China on Thursday, and slowing growth may mean a greater possibility of more stimulus measures. Read more on the World Bank's China assessment.
On the downside, shares in China Coal Energy Co. /zigman2/quotes/205321671/delayed CCOZY -1.24% /zigman2/quotes/201486584/delayed HK:1898 -0.37% fell 0.8% after a flooding accident at a mine operated by a unit killed four miners, prompting a suspension of all operations by that unit.
Foxconn International Holdings /zigman2/quotes/205017351/delayed HK:2038 0.00% /zigman2/quotes/208801946/delayed FXCNY +1.08% tumbled 7.4% after core customer Nokia Corp. /zigman2/quotes/207421390/composite NOK 0.00% announced a profit warning for the first half of the year. Read more on Foxconn's share slide and Nokia's warning.
Some Tokyo-listed exporters moved ahead, helped by a steady yen. Panasonic Corp. /zigman2/quotes/201785256/delayed JP:6752 +0.50% climbed 2.1%, while Mazda Motor Corp. /zigman2/quotes/204777714/delayed JP:7261 -0.11% /zigman2/quotes/206326885/delayed MZDAY -0.25% /zigman2/quotes/206326885/delayed MZDAY -0.25% and Pioneer Corp. each added 1.5%.
After the Japanese close, Sony Corp. /zigman2/quotes/201361720/delayed JP:6758 -0.57% /zigman2/quotes/208567357/composite SNE -1.20% said it would cut 10,000 jobs worldwide as part of a restructuring, after it issued a profit warning earlier this week. Shares rose 0.9% before the announcement. Read more on Sony job cuts.
Shares in Hitachi Construction Machinery /zigman2/quotes/205375504/delayed JP:6305 +0.03% /zigman2/quotes/202415695/delayed HTCMY +0.55% jumped 4.1% after the Nikkei business daily reported the firm is expected to deliver a near 40% lift in consolidating operating profit for the fiscal year.
However, major exporters dragged in South Korea. Samsung Electronics Co. /zigman2/quotes/203012110/delayed SSNGY 0.00% and LG Electronics Inc. /zigman2/quotes/206354790/delayed LGEIY 0.00% each tumbled 2.9%.
Some strategists said the election result could help sentiment.
“The surprise win by the ruling party could help reduce policy uncertainties. Political developments are still an important factor for markets however, given the upcoming December presidential elections,” said strategists at Goldman Sachs.
Shares in Korean Air Lines Co. fell 0.8% after a bomb threat forced one of its aircraft to make an emergency landing in Canada on Wednesday.
A planned rocket launch in neighboring North Korea was also closely watched. Read more on the planned North Korean missile launch.
“The North Korea risk has never before succeeded in reversing the Korean stock market’s course, other than brief pullbacks, and every such pullback was a buying opportunity,” Daniel Cho, head of research at Daishin Securities said in emailed comments.
“There is no reason why this time will be different, although foreign investors’ unease is a little bigger than before, given the unstable state of North Korea’s new regime,” Cho said.
In Australia, commodity-linked firms led gains. Global miner BHP Billiton Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/201448516/delayed AU:BHP -0.78% /zigman2/quotes/208108397/composite BHP -0.45% rose 0.9%. Rival Rio Tinto Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/200083756/delayed AU:RIO -0.46% /zigman2/quotes/202627887/composite RIO +0.79% put on 1.5% and PanAust Ltd. surged 5.4% after it said its copper output rose in the first quarter.
Energy plays were also higher, with Santos Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/207349564/delayed AU:STO -1.86% up 1.3%, after crude-oil futures jumped above $102-a-barrel in New York trading on Wednesday.