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Asia stocks rise on stimulus optimism; Nikkei up 0.25%

Stock Markets Sep 21, 2012 02:57AM ET
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This article has already been saved in your Saved Items - Asian stock markets ended the session higher on Friday, as renewed optimism following the recent announcement of additional stimulus measures by world central banks overshadowed the week's downbeat economic reports.  

During late Asian trade, Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index climbed 0.77%, Australia’s ASX/200 Index rose 0.25%, Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index added 0.25%.

Sentiment was hit on Thursday, after data showed that China’s HSBC Flash Purchasing Managers Index remained in contraction territory for the 11th consecutive month, adding to fears over a further slowdown in the region’s largest economy.

Separately, preliminary data showed that the euro zone’s manufacturing purchasing manufacturers' index rose more-than-expected in September, while service sector activity fell unexpectedly.

In the U.S., the Department of Labor said the number of individuals filing for initial jobless benefits last week fell to a seasonally adjusted 382,000, compared to expectations for a decrease to 375,000, while official data showed that manufacturing activity in the Philadelphia-region improved more-than-expected in September, but remained in contraction territory for the fifth consecutive month.

In Tokyo, the Nikkei was supported by strong gains in tech stocks.

TV maker Sharp surged 4.95% after the Mainichi newspaper said it is in talks with U.S. chipmaker Intel on a capital alliance that would offer a possible lifeline to the firm, as discussions with Taiwan's Hon Hai Precision Industry stall. Sharp denied the report.

On the downside, construction machinery makers Komatsu and Hitachi Construction Machinery tumbled 1.61% and 1.07% respectively, due to their exposure to China, Japan's biggest trading partner, and amid ongoing anti-Japan protests in the world's second-largest economy over a territorial dispute.

Meanwhile, shares in Hong Kong were lifted by strength in the local property sector.

Sun Hung Kai Properties climbed 0.68%, while Henderson Land rallied 2.02% and New World Development gained 2.43%.

Energy companies also added to gains, as shares in PetroChina advanced 1.20% and China Shenhua climbed 0.44%.

Elsewhere, Australian shares gained ground as energy stocks were boosted by higher oil prices, although softer copper prices and weak manufacturing surveys in major economies contained miners.

Mining giant BHP Billiton added 0.30%, while rival group Rio Tinto dropped 0.44%

Focus Mineralsplunged 9.30% after China's Shandong Gold Group agreed to buy a 51% stake in the company for USD227.5 million to boost output and help meet soaring domestic demand.

Looking ahead, European stock futures pointed to a higher open.

The EURO STOXX 50 futures pointed to a 0.35% gain, France’s CAC 40 futures climbed 0.48%, London’s FTSE 100 futures added 0.27%, while Germany's DAX futures pointed to a 0.21% rise.

Trading was expected to remain light on Friday, as no major economic indicators were to be released throughout the day.

Asia stocks rise on stimulus optimism; Nikkei up 0.25%

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