Asian stocks rise, but commodity slump caps gains
July 21, 2015, 11:33 am   

Asian stocks advanced on Tuesday, but gains were limited as traders kept a wary eye on the drop in commodity prices.

Spot gold held near its lowest level in more than five years in Asian trade. "The fall in gold may be a catch-up to the sharper rise in the dollar and fall in other commodity prices since mid-2014. Gold may also still appear over-valued compared to global bond yields and breakeven inflation expectations that reached record lows in first quarter," Greg Gibbs, head of APAC markets at RBS, wrote in a note.

In the energy space, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude fell 12 cents to $50.03 a barrel, and Brent crude for September was 10 cents lower at $56.55 a barrel, pushed down by a stronger dollar and still ample supply of both crude and refined products.

Overnight, U.S. stocks handed over a mildly positive lead on the back of a better-than-expected start to corporate earnings season. The Nasdaq Composite inched up 0.17 percent to another record high, while the blue-chip Dow and the S&P 500 ended marginally above the flatline.

China`s benchmark Shanghai Composite turned positive near midday and closed up 0.7 percent, chalking up a four-day winning streak. Elsewhere in the mainland, the CSI300 index notched up 0.1 percent while the smaller Shenzhen Composite similarly reversed a lower open to elevate 1.5 percent.

Energy plays mirrored the weakness regionwide; PetroChina and Sinopec retreated 1.8 and 1.5 percent, respectively, but China Oilfield Services managed to cut losses and rebounded 1 percent.

On the domestic data front, China drew $68.4 billion in foreign direct investment for the January-June period, up 8.3 percent from a year earlier, the Commerce Ministry reported on Tuesday. That shows FDI growth slowed from the previous year-to-date rate of 10.5 percent reported last month.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng Index tracked its mainland peers to hurl itself back above the flatline, up 0.6 percent at a two-week high.

Chow Tai Fook and Far East Consortium were in focus after winning a bid to build a build a casino with Australian gaming firm Echo Entertainment. The former recouped losses to gain 0.9 percent, while the latter powered up 5.1 percent.

Japan`s Nikkei 225 touched a near four-week high on its first trading day following an extended weekend, thanks to the yen trading at a near one-month low against the greenback, at 124.3.

Airlines were given a leg-up on the back of weaker jet fuel prices; Japan Airlines and ANA Holdings tacked on 2.3 and 1.6 percent, respectively. Meanwhile, a 3.6 percent rise in index heavyweight Fast Retailing also supported the index.

Toshiba was in focus following an independent investigation revealed Monday that the company overstated its operating profit by 151.8 billion yen ($1.22 billion) over several years in accounting irregularities involving top management. That was around three times Toshiba`s estimate.

Shares of the company rallied 6.1 percent to 399.9 yen, ending Tuesday at a near three-week peak.

The day`s laggards consisted of metal and mining shares. Mitsubishi Materials Corp and Sumitomo Metal Mining tanked 1.6 percent each.

Australia`s S&P ASX 200 index edged up to its highest level since June 2, extending a five-session winning streak, but softer gold and metal prices capped the resource-heavy index`s advances.

Gold producers extended their meltdown; Newcrest Mining closed down 1.5 percent, while Evolution Mining, which released its June 2015 quarterly report before the market open, sagged 2.6 percent. Alacer Gold plummeted 8.9 percent.

Shares of Echo Entertainment moved back into the black, up 0.6 percent following news that the gaming firm won a license to build a casino in the center of Brisbane. Rival Crown Resorts, which lost the bid, reversed lackluster trade to inch up 0.2 percent.

Meanwhile, the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) saidleaving interest rates at a record low this month was appropriate and hinted at a steady outlook for policy as it welcomed recent efforts to boost growth in China, minutes released Tuesday said.

Kospi adds 0.5%

South Korea`s Kospi index notched up in the final hour of trade, while the won hit a two-year low of 1,158.5 against the U.S. dollar.

Outperforming the bourse, Hyundai Motor and Kia Motors rocketed 7.3 and 3.1 percent, respectively, on the back of expectations that a softer won may boost exports.

Chemicals and battery maker LG Chem surged 7.9 percent, riding on the back of positive sentiment sparked by Friday`s announcement of a 56 percent rise in second-quarter net profit.

Rest of Asia

Singapore`s Straits Times index edged up modestly following an announcement by the Monetary Authority of Singapore that headline and core inflation this year will likely be at the lower end of its earlier forecasts. However, the central bank expects consumer prices to pick up next year.

India`s 50-share Nifty index was flat ahead of the earnings releases by blue-chip names such as Hindustan Unilever and Cairn India.

The country`s second-largest software services exporter Infosys announced a 5 percent rise in quarterly profit, nearly in line with estimates, and its shares rallied 10.7 percent.



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