Nikkei Asia300 index posts weekly gains as Yellen comments spur equity rally
HONG KONG (Nikkei Markets) -- Asian stocks outside of Japan rose this week, led by a rally in banking and technology stocks, as global risk sentiment was buoyed by what investors interpreted as fairly benign comments from the U.S. Federal Reserve Chair on outlook for interest rates.
The Nikkei Asia300 index rose 0.4% to 1,274.38 on Friday, taking its advance this week to 3.3%. Samsung Electronics jumped 5.5% this week, pacing gains among technology shares across the region. Last Friday, the South Korean technology giant estimated a record operating profit for the June quarter. Tencent Holdings climbed 5.9% in the five-day period and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing added 3.4%. On Friday, Samsung fell 0.2% and Tencent added 0.1%. TSMC fell 0.7% after second-quarter net income missed analyst estimates. The Nasdaq Composite's 2% gains this week through Thursday also helped the rally in technology stocks.
China Construction Bank (CCB) and Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) have risen 8% each since last Friday, pacing advances among mainland banks after China's central bank restarted open market operations and Morgan Stanley reiterated its "attractive" view on the sector. Agricultural Bank of China (ABC) and Bank of China (BOC) rose over 5% each this week.
Global risk appetite got a boost from Fed Chair Janet Yellen's comments that slowing inflation may lead to the central bank reconsidering its policy plans and that interest rates in the world's largest economy did not have to climb much to reach neutral levels.
Most Nikkei country indices rose Friday, extending the week's rally. China advanced 0.5% and South Korea 1%. Taiwan ended little changed.
China Vanke rose 2.4% in Hong Kong in the morning. During the midday break, the developer requested a trading halt, pending the release of inside information. H-shares of China Railway Construction (CRCC) advanced 0.8% after saying its contracts in the first half surged 47%. Air China rose 0.1% after saying late Thursday that its passenger count rose 1.8% in June from a year earlier. China Eastern Airlines ended unchanged. The airline reported a 9.4% increase in passengers carried last month.
BOE Technology advanced 1.5% in Shenzhen after saying it expects to return to a profit for the first half of 2017 after reporting a loss in the year ago period.
The Nikkei Hong Kong index edged lower by 0.2%. AIA Group, up 6% this week through Thursday amid a broader rally in financials, fell 1% on Friday.
Nikkei's Singapore country index jumped 1.8% on Friday. Global Logistic Properties rose 22% to S$3.29 after the warehouse operator said that it will be acquired by private equity consortium Nesta Investment Holdings for S$3.38 per share. The offer values GLP at S$16 billion ($11.6 billion).
In other South East Asian country indices, Malaysia and Indonesia rose 0.2% each, while Thailand edged higher by 0.1%. The Philippines fell 0.6% and Vietnam lost 0.4%.
The county index for India ended little changed on Friday. Tata Consultancy Services dragged software stocks lower following disappointing earnings. Its peer Infosys edged lower by 0.4% despite reporting a better-than-expected earnings.
--Nimesh Vora and V. Phani Kumar