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Asia stocks higher on Greek debt talk progress; Nikkei up 0.1%

Stock Markets Jan 31, 2012 02:46AM ET
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Investing.com - Asian stock markets were mixed to higher on Tuesday, as market sentiment recovered amid signs of progress in talks between Greece and its bondholders, while heavy machinery makers boosted the Nikkei higher after Japan’s industrial production grew at the fastest pace in seven months.

During late Asian trade, Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index jumped 1.3%, Australia’s ASX/200 Index slipped 0.23%, while Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index eased up 0.11%.

Speaking at a European Union summit in Brussels, Greek Prime Minister Lucas Papademos said major progress was made in talks aimed at restructuring the country’s debt. An agreement is necessary for Greece to secure the next tranche of bailout funds in order to prevent a sovereign debt default.

Japan’s Nikkei rose for the first time in three days to cap its best January performance since 1999. The benchmark gained 4.1% this month.

Shares in heavy machinery makers performed strongly after official data showed that Japanese industrial production rose by a better-than-expected 4.0% in December, swinging from a 2.7% decline in November.

Fuji Heavy Industries shares rose 1.6%, Hitachi Construction Machinery shares jumped 2.8%, while mining equipment maker Komatsu gained 1%.

Gains were limited amid concerns over the start of Japan’s earning season. Fujifilm Holdings saw shares tumble 6.9% after slashing its full-year profit forecast by almost half, citing the stronger yen and floods in Thailand.
 
Shares in digital camera maker Canon dropped 4.2% after warning that profit will rise this year by less than 1%.

Elsewhere, shares in Hong Kong rallied to post its best January performance since 1996, as financials rebounded from the previous day’s losses.

China Construction Bank shares rose 2%, Bank of China added 1.55%, while insurers Ping An and China Life advanced 2.75% and 3.15% respectively.

Coal maker China Shenhua gained 2.4% after the company said that coal output rose 25% in the 2011 fiscal year while coal sales were up 32%.  

On the downside, Aluminum Corporation of China saw shares drop 3.55% after warning that net profit may fall by more than 50%, citing higher electricity costs and falling aluminum prices.

Steelmaker Angang Steel plunged 10.4% after saying that it would likely swing to a loss in the 2011 fiscal year, as steel product prices fell heavily in the fourth quarter.     

Looking ahead, the outlook for European stock markets was upbeat. The EURO STOXX 50 futures pointed to a gain of 0.8%, France’s CAC 40 futures added 0.95%, London’s FTSE 100 futures rose 0.5%, while Germany's DAX futures climbed 0.7%.

Later in the day, the U.S. was to release industry data on house price inflation, as well as a report on manufacturing activity in the Chicago region. The country is also to publish a report on consumer confidence.

Asia stocks higher on Greek debt talk progress; Nikkei up 0.1%
 

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