Nikkei 225 Down on Thursday While Other Asian Indices Mainly Up

on Jan 5, 2017

A stronger yen, in the upper echelons of the 116 yen-to-USD range, led to Thursday losses for the exporter-heavy **Nikkei 225** on Thursday as it finished the week’s penultimate trading session 0.37% down. The Nikkei’s PMI score for the services sector came in at 52.3, up from November’s 51.8 and composite PMI showed it best reading since August 2015, recording a score of 52.8, up from 52.0 the previous month.

Yesterday proved to be a poor day for electronics focused companies in both Japan and worldwide but Toshiba Corp. rebounded today to record the most significant gain on the index, 4.91%, having been amongst the biggest fallers on Wednesday. Car electronics company Pioneer gained 4.84% and third place in the gainers table went to Oki Electric Industry, a maker of info-telecom and printer products, which added 4.58%, taking its share price to a 52-week high. Department store operator J.Front Retailing returned 3.15% and in the banking space Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group added 1.45%.

With the dollar weakened against the yen, big exporters bore the brunt and Sony lost 1.11%, Toyota 0.68% and Honda a more incremental 0.06%. The day’s biggest faller was SUMCO Corp. The company, which makes silicon wafers for semiconductors was down 5.48% as yesterday’s negative trend for firms in the semiconductor space continued. Taiyo Yuden Co., the electronics company among the pioneers of CD technology, lost 4.51% and chemical and speciality materials producer Tosoh Corp had a 3.31% fall.
In Hong Kong, the **Hang Seng** had a strong Thursday, adding 1.42% as the offshore yuan rose by 1.3%, the most in a year, and a private gauge of service sector activity in China recorded a 17-month high. The offshore’s yuan’s strengthening comes amid speculation that the currency is being given support by the Chinese authorities who are also looking at fresh initiatives to halt capital outflows from the country.
Companies in the energy, property and insurance sectors led Thursday’s gains with PetroChina in top spot with a gain of 4.19%. Other strong performers from the energy sector, boosted by a rise in oil price, were China Shenhua Energy, up 3.7%, and China Petroleum and Chemical with a 3.26% gain. CNOOC rose 1.53%.
In real estate, Link REIT gained 2.64% and China Resources Land 2.27%, with insurers AIA Group and China Life Insurance up 2.18% and 1.94% respectively. Other top performers on Thursday included AAC Technologies, the second strongest gainer with a return of 3.71%, shoe maker Belle International Holdings, up 2.73% and media, entertainment, internet and mobile holding Tencent, which rose by 2.54%.
The day’s biggest faller was China Mengniu Dairy, down 2.56% on news that it had agreed to buy smaller peer China Modern Dairy Holdings. Rice cracker, snacks and soft drinks manufacturer Want Want had another bad day at the office, down 1.76%.
In Singapore, the **STI** is currently exactly matching the Hang Seng’s performance, also rising by 1.42%. Warehouse giant Global Logistics Properties has surged 7.14% on news that the company is reportedly seeking bidders. Telecoms company StarHub is up 2.86% and casino operator Genting is again among the biggest gainers, up 2.75%. Marine property and infrastructure business Keppel Corp is up 2.41% and Yangzijiang Shipbuilding 2.42%. SembCorp Marine and SEMBCorp Industries are up 2.82% and 2.05% respectively.
The heaviest loser so far is Thai Beverage, down 1.18%, and the only company to have slid by more than 1% on Thursday.
Australia’s **ASX 200** also saw gains, albeit a more modest 0.29%, with rising base metal prices and financials providing the main catalyst, despite thin trading volumes which were 0.7% of the 30-day average. National Australia Bank added 0.9% while ANZ gained 0.4% to take it to its highest share price in 17 months.
Copper price showing strong gains on heightened optimism on future demand from China led copper miners Oz Minerals and Sandfire Resources to respective 3.42% and 3.61% gains. Diversified mining giant BHP Billiton managed a third successive session of gains to start the new year, up 0.1%, while peer Rio Tinto returned 0.2%. Iron ore specialist Fortescue Metals, however, recorded a 0.17% loss as iron ore prices slipped back following a good Wednesday. With gold price up, gold miners profited, Newcrest Mining recording a 1.8% gain and St. Barbara was the second strongest gainer on the index, up 4.76%.
The biggest gain on the ASX on Thursday was recorded by telecoms and internet infrastructure company Vocus, which rose by 6.42% while the biggest loss was suffered by lithium and borax miner Orocobre, down 2.97%. Toll roads operator Macquarie Atlas Roads Group fell by 2.19% and logistics and infrastructure company Qube Holdings by 2.05%.

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