Finance Markets

May 29, 2006

Asian markets mostly higher; Tokyo mixed

Filed under: Equities, Economy, Asia, Japan, India, South Korea

Most Asian equities markets saw gains on Monday, with Tokyo again being the exception as the Topix index was slightly higher but the Nikkei was down by 55.08 points on the day.

In South Korea, the Kospi Index added 0.5 percent to 1,329.22 as foreign buyers purchased more than they sold for the first time in 14 trading days. The Hang Seng in Hong Kong added 0.4 percent to 15,963.77 despite caution in anticipation of the beginning of trade by the Bank of China, scheduled for Thursday. The BSE Sensex index in Mumbai added 0.4 percent to 10,853.14 on advances in the transportation sector. In Karachi, Pakistan, however, the KSE-100 lost 3.9 percent to 10,247.59 as foreign fund managers sold heavily.

In Tokyo, while the Topix added 0.2 percent, a mere 2.39 points, to 1,616.17 on steel and banking advances, the Nikkei 225 dropped 0.3 percent to 15,915.68.

The banking sector added 1.2 percent as a whole, with Mitsubishi UFJ and Resona each up by 2.7 percent, to ¥1,540,000 and ¥348,000 respectively. Despite forecasts for this year that were disappointing for some banks, most annual reports for the year just ended were good.

Steel companies were up on reports that European steel maker Arcelor will purchase Russian company Severstal. Nippon Steel gained 0.7 percent to ¥471, Tokyo Steel Manufacturing was up 1 percent to ¥2,460, and JFE added 1.7 percent to ¥4,860.

Toyota was up 0.5 percent to ¥6,140 after Daiwa Institute of Research raised its target share price on the carmaker.

Declines came in the retail sector after new data showed that year-on-year sales were down in April. Seven & I dropped 1 percent to ¥4,070, while Isetan was down 1.4 percent to 2,085 and Matsuzakaya declined 2 percent to ¥872.

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May 25, 2006

Asian markets mostly lower again

Filed under: Equities, Economy, Asia, Japan, India, South Korea

Asian equities markets were down again on Thursday as investors continued to look for less risky places to put their money. The exception was the BSE 30 Index in India, which added 0.88 percent to 10,666.32 after a rally late in the day.

In Thailand the SET Index fell 1.8 percent to 701.03, it’s lowest close in five months. In South Korea, the Korea Composite Stock Price Index dropped 2.82 percent to 1,295.76, the third biggest one-day decline so far this year and the index’s lowest close in six months. The Hang Seng, in Hong Kong, declined by 0.79 percent to 15,696.89, while the Straits Times Index in Singapore lost 1.3 percent to 2,404.45.

Elsewhere in the Pacific, the S&P/ASX 200 in Sydney lost 1.21 percent to 4,976.80.

The Tokyo equities markets were also down on the day, with the Nikkei 225 losing 1.3 percent to 15,693.75 and the Topix index dropping 1.3 percent as well, to close at 1,584.71. Declines came for both domestic and export-focused stocks.

The electronics sector was down 1.4 percent as a whole. Toshiba lost 4.5 percent to ¥713, while Sony declined by 1.4 percent to ¥5,090. Automobile manufacturer Toyota, also focused on exports, lost 1.8 percent to ¥6,010.

Among more domestically focused sectors, securities were down 3.6 percent as a whole. Nomura dropped 3.7 percent to ¥2,200, while Daiwa Securities and Nikko Cordial each lost 4 percent to ¥1,377 and ¥1,566 respectively.

The real estate sector dropped 1.5 percent as a whole. Mitsui Fudosan lost 1.9 percent to ¥2,340 and Mitsubishi Estate ended the day down 3.9 percent to ¥2,230.

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May 23, 2006

Emerging Asian markets higher; Tokyo still down

Filed under: Equities, Economy, Asia, Japan, India

Asian equities markets, especially in emerging economies, saw gains on Tuesday after Monday’s losses. Bargain-hunting and higher commodities prices helped bring about the advances.

In Mumbai, the Sensex index added 3.3 percent to 10,822.78 after a 4.2 percent decline Monday. In Jakarta, the JSX index was up 1.3 percent to 1,326.26, while in Singapore the Straits Times index gained 0.5 percent to 2,429.55 and in Bangkok the SET index advanced by 0.5 percent to 727.21.

The exception to the gains was Japan, where the Tokyo equities markets dropped significantly on declines in a number of sectors. The Nikkei 225 dropped 1.6 percent to 15,599.20, while the Topix index declined by 2.3 percent to 1,579.26, as both closed at their lowest levels in three months.

Banks dropped 4.3 percent as a sector. Mitsubishi UFJ was down 6.1 percent to ¥1,530,000 after it said that earnings in the 2006/2007 fiscal year would be down substantially from record profits in 2005/2006. Mizuho declined by 4.8 percent to ¥895,000 on comments from UBS that its operating profits target for the 2006/2007 fiscal year could be overly ambitious.

The securities sector was down by 2.7 percent on the day, with Nomura dropping 2.9 percent to ¥2,200 and Nikko Cordial losing 2.6 percent to ¥1,599.

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May 22, 2006

Asian equities markets decline

Filed under: Equities, Economy, Asia, Australia, Japan, India, South Korea

Equities markets in Asia saw substantial declines on Monday as investors interested in avoiding risks exited emerging markets. Declines were widespread throughout the region.

In Mumbai, the market fell 10 percent during the day, causing trade to be suspended for an hour. Once trade resumed, the market recovered some but still closed 4.2 percent lower at 10,481.77. In other major Asian markets, Indonesia’s Composite Index lost 6 percent to 1,309.05 and the Straits Times in Singapore and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong each dropped 3.1 percent to 2,416.69 and 15,805.52 respectively.

The Kospi index in Seoul declined by 2.5 percent to 1,338.59. The biggest exception to the declines there was retailer Shinsegae, which added 6.6 percent on the day to won460,000 after it said it would buy Wal-Mart’s South Korean stores.

Meanwhile, in Australia, the S&P/ASX in Sydney dropped 1.4 percent to 5,030.8. Miners were a factor there, with BHP Billiton dropping 3 percent to A$27.89 and Rio Tinto falling 3.9 percent to A$75.22. Oil stocks were also lower in Sydney, with ARC Energy down 6.4 percent to A$1.54 and Hardman Resources declined by 6.7 percent to A$1.76.

In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 closed at its lowest level in two months, dropping 1.8 percent to 15,857.87. The Topix index lost 1.4 percent to 1,615.86. Miners were down there, as well, with Nippon Mining losing 8 percent to ¥948 and Sumitomo Metal Mining down by 3.9 percent to ¥1,471.

Among Japanese semiconductor companies, Elpida Memory lost 5.2 percent to ¥4,890 on a restatement of last year’s earnings that showed an even wider net loss than had been previously reported. In the electronics sector, Sony added 0.8 percent to ¥5,120 on the announcement that mobile carrier KDDI has plans to launch a line of Walkman-type mobiles manufactured by Sony Ericsson. The news sent shares in KDDI up 1.4 percent to ¥737,000.

Seafood processing groups saw the biggest gains for the day in Tokyo, with Nippon Suisan adding 10.2 percent to ¥584 and Maruha gaining 3.3 percent to ¥282. The sector has been benefiting from foreign demand for their products.

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June 30, 2005

India economy grows seven percent

Filed under: Economy, Asia, India
India economy grows seven percent

India’s economy grew by 7 percent in the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2004/05, putting the Asian nation’s economic growth for the year to 6.9 percent, the figure forecast by the Indian government.

Manufacturing output grew 8.6 percent in the quarter from January to March and growth for the year was 9.2 percent in the sector.

Output growth for the farm sector, however, was substantially below the forecast of 4 percent, at 1.8 percent for the last quarter and 1.1 percent for the year.

The farming sector forms a fifth of India’s GDP and supports 600 million Indians. It has traditionally influenced the entire economy through its demand for manufactured goods.

However, the latest economic figures show that the link between farming incomes in rural areas and industrial activity is weakening due to factors such as greater availability of rural credit, the rise of an affluent middle class, and a growing and successful export market.

Some experts are calling for higher investment in irrigation and moisture retention technologies to help raise farming output by making up for differences in rainfall between weak and strong monsoon years.

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June 17, 2005

India to allow foreign newspaper printing

Filed under: India
India to allow foreign newspaper printing

The Indian cabinet paved the way on Thursday for foreign newspapers to print editions in India.

The decision is almost certain to be approved by parliament and will make China the last large nation to ban the printing of foreign publications in their country.

The decision came after the International Herald Tribune, based in Paris, set up a printing operation in Hyderabad last year and refused orders to stop printing.

M. J. Akbar, the local publisher of the IHT in India, said that the Indian constitution guarantees freedom of expression and that the ban on the printing of foreign publications, which was decreed in a resolution by Jawaharlal Nehru’s cabinet in 1955, was not legal.

The new decision will end the necessity for foreign publications to be flown into Indian from neighboring countries, a practice that not only means that they are often out of date by the time they arrive but makes them very expensive.

India’s information minister said that editions printed in India must be the same edition as those published in other countries, not Indian editions that will compete with local publications for advertising and readers.

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June 7, 2005

Jet Airways denies terror link

Filed under: Companies, India
Jet Airways denies terror link

Jet Airways, India’s dominant private sector air carrier, has vowed to go to court to fight accusations from a company also called Jet Airways that is based in the US state of Maryland.

The US company has alleged that the Indian company has ties to al-Qaeda. The Indian airline is scheduled to begin service to the US on June 23, and airline officials hope to meet that launch date despite the claim filed by the US company.

The accusations, made to the US department of transportation, allege that the Indian company is linked to Indian gangster Dawood Ibrahim and through him to al-Qaeda and claim that if the Indian company
is allowed to operate in the US it will give al-Qaeda access to American skies. The Indian company says that it has filed a rebuttal to the claims with the department of transportation.

Jet Airways of India also claims that the US company is a “shell company” with a suite of offices but no actual business activities, and that the real issue has to do with trade-name infringement.

Jet Airways of India is based in Mumbai and currently has 43 percent of the domestic market in India. It launched an initial public offering in March.

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May 30, 2005

India to lift retail investment ban

Filed under: Economy, India
India to lift retail investment ban

An announcement from Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh that his country will soon allow direct foreign investment in the retail sector gave US retail giant Wal-Mart hope that it will soon be able to enter India’s $180 billion retail market.

Asked when “soon” might be, Mr. Singh said that the changes would probably come this year. A senior government official later said that the ban could be lifted before Mr. Singh meets with US president George W. Bush in July.

The comments came while Wal-Mart officials were in India to discuss the company’s plans.

There are concerns, however, over the entry of large retailers into an industry dominated by small family businesses. Large retailers currently control only around 3 percent of the retail market in India.

Indian retailers are also concerned that allowing companies like Wal-Mart into the Indian market would mean an influx of imported goods.

The cultural impact of a retailer like Wal-Mart would be significant in India, even in large cities like New Delhi, where most food bought by its 14 - 15 million people is still purchased from small corner stores, street markets, and through door-to-door sales.

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May 9, 2005

Asian equities mixed

Filed under: Equities, Asia, Japan, India
Asian equities mixed

Asian equities markets were mixed on Monday.

In Tokyo, profit-taking saw the Nikkei 225 fall 0.2 percent to 11,171.32 while the Topix index rose 0.2 percent to end at 1,152.48.

Japan Airlines, the largest air carrier in Asia, fell 1 percent to ¥297 in spite of higher than expected profits for the fiscal year 2004/5 and a positive forecast for 2005/6.

The air carrier had warned that profits could be affected by high fuel costs. In addition, its chairman resigned early amid safety criticisms.

Other airlines either remained at earlier levels or closed higher.

Elsewhere, the Taiex index in Taiwan closed flat at 4,966.85. The Kospi index in Seoul was down 0.6 percent, to 935.2, on worries over possible nuclear tests by North Korea.

Also, Hyundai Motors was down 0.9 percent to Won52,500 and Kia Motors fell 1.5 percent to Won12,750. Meanwhile, in India, the Sensex index in Mumbai rose 0.7 percent to 6,430.67.

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May 3, 2005

India diversifies foreign exchange reserves: from dollars to euros

Filed under: Forex, India
India diversifies foreign exchange reserves: from dollars to euros

India on Tuesday made statements indicating that it might be thinking of reducing its reliance on the dollar in its foreign exchange reserves.

In a written answer to a question about India’s exposure to the dollar, the junior finance minister referred to “diversification of currency risk.”

India does not reveal the makeup of its reserves, but analysts believe that India’s central bank reserves are currently about two-thirds dollars.

Adding to this perception is a statement by the Bank for International Settlements, which said in March that India’s banking sector, including both commercial banks and the Reserve Bank of India , held only 43 percent of its deposits in dollars in September 2004, compared to 68 percent in September 2001.

In whatever currencies they are held, India’s reserves are known to have grown by $13.5 billion, to $142.6 billion since January.

This makes it the sixth largest foreign currency reserve in the world.

Further, because the junior finance minister’s written comments included a statement that the euro is an important currency to the RBI, it has raised speculation that India is looking to switch to the euro in its effort to reduce its exposure to the dollar.

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April 29, 2005

India increases credit for overseas expansions

Filed under: Economy, Asia, India
India increases credit for overseas expansions

The demand for credit by Indian businesses grew in 2004 faster than it has since the 1990s.

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) says this is due mostly to growing demand for capital from big businesses like construction and manufacturing, although the demands for retail and consumer credit were also a factor.

Between April 2004 and January 2005, borrowing by large and medium-sized companies went up by Rs322 billion ($7 billion). This compares to Rs 17 billion the year before.

According to the RBI, much of this demand for credit came from Indian companies looking to expand overseas.

The demand came from manufacturers such as the makers of automobile parts as well as more usual sectors such as IT services and software suppliers.

The managing director of the ICICI Bank, Indian’s second largest, said that Indian companies are working on projects that will expand capacity by $45 billion and $50 billion dollars.

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April 26, 2005

Boeing takes Air India order

Filed under: Companies, US, Asia, India
Boeing takes Air India order

On the heels of an announcement that Air Canada had placed a $6 billion order with Boeing, the U.S. aircraft manufacturer said Tuesday that Air India had ordered up to 50 medium- and long-range aircraft from the Chicago-based company.

The Air India order includes eight 777-200LRs, fifteen 777-300ERs, and twenty-seven 787s, and is worth nearly $7 billion.

It is seen as another major step in Boeing’s effort to regain its status as the leader in the commercial aerospace industry from its European rival, Airbus.

Additionally, Boeing is expected to announce soon an order of eighteen 787s from Northwest Airlines, previously Airbus’ third-largest customer.

One factor that has been hurting Airbus is that although it is taking orders for its new Airbus A350, it has not settled on a final configuration for the plane, nor has it received formal approval to build it.

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