By Donal Nee
CMC Markets Singapore
Equity markets have started the week on a positive note as most of the Asian indices posted gains today. With the Australian markets closed for Australia Day celebrations, the rest of Asia jumped out of the starting blocks, following the positive lead from the U.S on Friday’s session. The Dow Jones Industrial Average continued its impressive runs higher for the 11th time in 12 sessions, not to mention the S&P 500 performance, finishing above 1,500 for the first time since late 2007, the S&P 500 has now risen 5.4% since the start of January. In China, data released on Sunday showed profits at the country’s biggest industrial enterprises slowed sharply in 2012, growing by only 5.3%, nearly one-fifth of the 25.4% jump seen the previous year.
Hong Kong stocks got off to a positive start to the week, the Hang Seng Index rose 0.35% with shares in China Resources Land and Hang Lung Properties adding 1.5% each, while Sino Land and heavyweight stock HSBC Holdings both jumping 1.2%. On the down side however, shares in shipping giant China Cosco Holdings tumbled 5.8% after warnings of a “significant net loss” for 2012.
Japan’s Nikkei managed to hit an intraday high of 11,000, reclaiming the milestone for the 1st time since April 2010, before retreating as profit-taking kicked in with the upcoming reporting session about to start. The benchmark index was down 0.95% at the close. The Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe also had his 1st policy speech to parliament today in which he urged the Bank of Japan to hit its inflation target as soon as possible and to keep its promise for bolder action in order to lift the country out of deflation.
On the local front, Singapore’s straits times managed to continue its impressive run as it hit 2 year highs to close up 0.2% at 3,275. Shares in commodities firm, Noble Group advance 2.9% today hitting 2 month highs along the way. Reports also came out today from Fraser and Neave’s financial adviser that the recent offer of $9.55 a share from Thai Billionaire Mr Charoen, through his unlisted vehicle TCC Assets was fair and falls within their valuation of $8.58 to $11.68 a share.
U.S crude oil continued it ascent today, rising 20 cent to trade at $96.07 a barrel. Gold managed to trade fractionally higher as optimism continues to grow over the global economic outlook which has led to a sell off on the precious metal over the last number of weeks. Gold traded up 0.1% at $1660.7 an ounce.
For the week ahead we will see the busiest section of fourth-quarter earnings in the U.S, with 122 of the S&P 500 scheduled to release results however tonight we will have U.S Pending Home Sales data. On Wednesday we will be turning our attention back to Japan for Retail Sales y/y figures then on Thursday we will have New Zealand’s Official Cash Rate decisions with expectation for it to remain at 2.5%. On Friday we will see the all-important U.S nonfarm payrolls report for January, with many analysts expecting to see 157,000 jobs to be added however the unemployment rate is expected to remain at 7.8%.