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22.12.2011 08:05

Stocks: Wednesday’s review

Asian stocks rose for a second day, with a benchmark index set for the biggest gain in almost three weeks, as China pledged support for exporters and small businesses and after improved U.S. and German economic data.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average (NKY) increased 1.5 percent, while South Korea’s Kospi Index jumped 3.1 percent. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 rose 2.1 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index gained 1.9 percent.

The Hang Seng China Enterprises Index added 2.2 percent after Premier Wen Jiabao pledged to provide capital support for small and medium-sized companies affected by the nation’s slowing economic growth. The Shanghai Composite Index slipped 1.1 percent, erasing gains of as much as 1 percent.

Shares of Asian exporters advanced. Honda Motor Co., the Japanese carmaker that gets about 44 percent of its sales from North America, advanced 2.4 percent in Tokyo on speculation shipments will rise amid signs the U.S. economy is improving. Samsung Electronics Co., South Korea’s biggest exporter of devices such as mobile phones and semiconductors, climbed 4.5 percent to 1.057 million won in Seoul. James Hardie Industries SE (JHX), a maker of building materials that counts the U.S. as its biggest market, added 1.8 percent to A$6.66.

Stocks also gained as concern about Europe’s debt crisis eased after Spain sold 5.64 billion euros ($7.38 billion) of bills, more than the maximum target, and German business confidence unexpectedly grew.

Shipping stocks advanced on speculation a new alliance formed by Mitsui O.S.K. Lines Ltd., Hyundai Merchant Marine Co., Neptune Orient Lines Ltd. and three other lines on the Asia- Europe trade route will help stem a decline in rates.

Mitsui O.S.K., Japan’s second-biggest freight carrier by sales, increased 1.8 percent to 288 yen in Tokyo. Hyundai Merchant Marine, South Korea’s No. 2, jumped 4.5 percent to 25,400 won in Seoul. Neptune Orient Lines Ltd, Southeast Asia’s largest container carrier, gained 3.6 percent to S$1.15.

OneSteel, which tumbled 75 percent this year through yesterday, increased 7.1 percent to 68 Australian cents. Goldman Sachs recommended investors “buy” the stock, saying the company may benefit from a potential loosening of monetary policy in China.

Raw-material producers and energy companies advanced today after commodity prices rallied on the improving outlook for the U.S. and Europe and after Wen’s pledge of support for Chinese producers. China is the world’s biggest consumer of copper.

BHP Billiton Ltd. (BHP), which counts China’s as its No. 1 market, climbed 3 percent to A$35.13. Jiangxi Copper Co., China’s biggest producer of the metal, rose 1.9 percent to HK$16.84 in Hong Kong.

European stocks fell for the first time in three days as lenders sought more funds from the European Central Bank than economists had predicted, reducing optimism that the debt crisis will be contained.

The Frankfurt-based ECB awarded 489 billion euros ($640 billion) in 1,134-day loans, more than economists’ median estimate of 293 billion euros in a Bloomberg News survey. The ECB said 523 banks asked for the funds, which it will lend at the average of its benchmark rate over the term of the loans. They start tomorrow.

The banks borrowed enough cash to refinance almost two- thirds of the debt they have maturing next year amid concern that markets will remain frozen.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government reduced its planned bond sales next year to 250 billion euros, compared with 270 billion euros proposed in the budget and 283 billion euros that it sold this year. The federal government will sell 170 billion euros in bonds and 80 billion euros in shorter maturities, the Frankfurt-based Federal Finance Agency said as it presented the provisional bond calendar for 2012 today.

The head of the world’s biggest bond fund said he sees a more than one-in-three chance that the euro area will break apart and trigger a financial crisis akin to the one that devastated the global economy in 2008.

National benchmark indexes fell in 14 of the 18 western European markets. The U.K.’s FTSE 100 (UKX) slid 0.6 percent, while France’s CAC 40 retreated 0.8 percent and Germany’s DAX declined 1 percent.

SAP lost 6.1 percent to 39.92 euros, the largest decline since October 2009, and competitor Software AG fell 4.9 percent to 27.25 euros. Cap Gemini SA, a computer-services company, retreated 4.9 percent to 24.09 euros.

Oracle, the second-largest business-software maker, posted earnings before some costs in the quarter ended Nov. 30 of 54 cents a share, on revenue excluding certain items of $8.81 billion. Analysts had projected profit of 57 cents and sales of $9.23 billion, according to estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

UniCredit, Italy’s biggest bank, dropped 4.4 percent to 70.8 euro cents and France’s Societe Generale SA slid 3.4 percent to 16.63 euros. A gauge of banks in the Stoxx 600 slipped 0.7 percent.

Konecranes, the Finnish maker of container cranes, retreated 3.6 percent to 13.92 euros after saying it’s restructuring European operations and must cut 100 jobs.

U.S. stocks rose, sending the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index higher for a second day, as gains in energy and consumer shares helped the market recover from an early drop after lower-than-estimated results at Oracle Corp.

The S&P 500 is down about 1.1 percent this year after tumbling 19 percent from this year’s high in April through Oct. 3 amid concern Europe’s debt crisis would derail global economic growth. Since then, it has rebounded 13 percent on better-than- estimated American economic data and steps taken by European leaders to tame the crisis.

U.S. equities followed European shares lower earlier as banks sought more funds from the European Central Bank than economists predicted. Banks borrowed enough cash from the ECB at its first three-year offering to refinance almost two-thirds of the debt they have maturing next year on concern that markets will remain frozen.

Spanish two-year government notes fell for the first time in nine days amid fading optimism that the ECB’s three-year loans to euro-area banks will restore confidence in sovereign borrowers. The ECB awarded 489 billion euros ($645 billion) in 1,134-day loans, the most ever in a single operation and more than economists’ median estimate of 293 billion euros in a Bloomberg News survey.

In the U.S., the number of existing homes sold was revised lower by an average 14 percent since 2007, the National Association of Realtors reported today, magnifying the depth of the slump that contributed to the last recession

Oracle plunged 12 percent to $25.10. Business-software companies are taking longer to close deals as companies gird for slow economic growth in the U.S. and the possibility of a recession in Europe next year, said Rick Sherlund, an analyst at Nomura Holdings Inc.

Walgreen Co., the largest U.S. drugstore chain, slumped 0.4 percent as profit trailed estimates. A dispute between the company and Express Scripts Inc., an employee-benefits manager, led to a loss of customers, hurting pharmacy demand. CVS Caremark Corp. and Rite Aid Corp. are trying to grab customers amid the standoff over the contract.

Research In Motion Ltd. surged 10 percent to $13.72 after reports Microsoft Corp. and Nokia Oyj mulled a bid while Inc. also considered buying the BlackBerry maker.

RIM "turned down takeover overtures" from Amazon because it wanted to fix shortcomings independently, Reuters reported yesterday. A Wall Street Journal article said Microsoft and Nokia "flirted with the idea of making a joint bid" in recent months. Both publications cited unidentified people familiar with the respective matters.

22.12.2011 07:38

Tech on USD/JPY

Market Focus

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  • Earnings Season in U.S.: Major Reports of the Week
  • German private sector output growth slowed for the second month running in July
  • ECB's Mersch says as conditions normalise, it is unlikely that uncoventional policies will remain necessary
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