Asian markets mixed as Australian stocks close lower

<p>Asian Markets were mixed in the morning session today. The Shanghai Composite Index was up 0.67% before the lunch break. Shanghai based companies such as […]</p>

Asian Markets were mixed in the morning session today. The Shanghai Composite Index was up 0.67% before the lunch break. Shanghai based companies such as taxi company Shanghai Qiangsheng Holdings (600662) outperformed, up 10% to the daily limit at CNY 9.23 after Walt Disney Co signed an agreement with the city to build its first mainland theme park.

Construction firm Shanghai Pudong Road and Bridge Co Ltd (600284) climbed 4%, while real estate developer Shanghai Lujiazui  Finance &Trade Zone Development (600663) gained 6.2%.

The Hang Seng Index lost 25 points to 24851 in the morning.  Key index weight HSBC (0005.HK) fell 1.7% to H$ 86.65 after the bank reported earnings so far this year that were “well ahead” versus a year earlier.  It said there could be “some bumps in the road” for emerging markets.

Japan’s Nikkei rose 0.8% to a 3-month high. Resource-linked stocks rose on higher commodity prices as investors took a surprisingly robust US jobs report as a hint that the economy was in better shape. Sumitomo Metals Mining Co (5713.T) climbed 1.7% to JPY 1403 and Mitsui Mining and Smelting (5706.T) gained 2.3% to JPY 262. Shares of Credit Saison (8253.T) shot up 6.5% to JPY 1249 after the consumer credit firm raised its full-year net profit forecast to March 2011 to 12 billion yen from 9 billion yen, partially due to cost cutting.

Good volumes and a broad holding of ground suggest that the Australian share market has broken to a new, higher trading range. While the Australia 200 index is lower, 14 of those points are accounted for by stocks going ex-dividend today. The chances of a test of the 2010 high at 5,025 have increased significantly. While the financials appeared to be lag, they were held down by Macquarie (88c) and Westpac (74c) distributing dividends.

Other finance companies were slightly softer, as some of the recent takeover froth subsided.  The best performing sector today was energy, where prices were fuelled higher by a surge in oil prices. The close above $87 a barrel in the US on Friday means that oil is within a whisker of a two year high. Woodside, Santos and Oilsearch all benefited. Smaller resource stocks were also positive.

Defensives had a mixed day. Consumer staple stocks were down, but retailers and healthcare stocks moved higher. Telcos were flat on the day. Orica shares were one of the top performers, after a very solid profit announcement, dragging fellow chemicals group Incitec Pivot higher in its wake.

There is some chatter around dealing desks of the potential for BHP to run the ruler over either, however they do not appear to have sufficient size to attract BHP’s attention.

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