Banking and energy stocks lead Asian markets higher

<p>The Hong Kong stock market traded higher in the morning session, in line with gains in other Asian markets. The Hang Seng index rose 256 […]</p>

The Hong Kong stock market traded higher in the morning session, in line with gains in other Asian markets. The Hang Seng index rose 256 points to 24,756, with banking and energy stocks providing the lead. The largest offshore oil producer in China, CNOOC, rose more than 2% after the crude oil price traded close to its 2 year high.

Chinese CPI data came in higher than expected at 4.4% versus 4% expected, but investors had already factored it in after the Chinese Central bank suddenly increased the bank reserve ratio by 50 basis points yesterday. The banking sector also performed well today with market leaders HSBC and ICBC lifting 0.99% and 2.26% respectively.

In Singapore, the Straits Time index rose 0.4% to 3301 in the first trading session, still close to its year high. Singapore telecommunication gained 1.9% despite weaker than expected third quarter earnings as its plan to increase the dividend payout ratio boosted investors confidence in the company.

Golden Agriculture Resources extended its recent run by another 3.3% to SGD 0.775 after its third quarter profits rose 41% to $99 million.  The stock has risen more than 36% since October, spurred by a rally in palm oil prices.

The Australian share market today resumed its upward march, recapturing ground lost yesterday and moving back above important chart support levels. Resources performed strongly, lifted by impressive rises in commodity prices overnight. Oil stocks led the way, following a break upwards in the price of oil, but gold stocks and global miners all contributed to the gains.

Interestingly, steel stocks rose alongside iron ore producers. The major banks had a mixed day, held back by further comments about bank profitability by politicians, but local banks, insurers and fund managers surged higher.

Even defensive stocks performed reasonably well, indicating that today the market saw top-down, index related buying. Telcos and healthcare stocks were generally stronger, although consumer related shares fell overall.


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