Stocks cap bad month with gains

<p>Stocks were mostly higher across the Asian region, paring losses earlier in the month. Investors are starting to warm to the prospects of more quantitative […]</p>

Stocks were mostly higher across the Asian region, paring losses earlier in the month. Investors are starting to warm to the prospects of more quantitative easing should the US economy fail to build growth momentum. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index gained 0.6% to 124.12 in afternoon Tokyo trading, having swung between gains and losses at least six times. The gauge is heading for a 9.3% decline this month, the most since May 2010.

In economic news, Philippine growth slowed for a fourth straight quarter after faltering global demand curbed exports and investment eased. Gross domestic product increased 3.4% in the second quarter from a year earlier, compared with a revised 4.6% gain in the three months through March, the National Statistical Coordination Board said today. The figure was below market expectations slightly above 4%.

In Japan, industrial production rose less than expected in July, signaling that the nation’s recovery from the March 11 earthquake and tsunami is losing momentum as the yen gains and overseas demand slows. Factory output increased 0.6% in July from June, the slowest gain since March, the Trade Ministry said in Tokyo today. Market expectations were for a number twice that.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 fell 0.1% in response to the report. Elsewhere in the region, Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index gained 0.1%, erasing earlier losses of as much as 0.4%. South Korea’s Kospi Index increased 1.4%, erasing an earlier decline of as much as 0.3%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index advanced 0.4%, while China’s Shanghai Composite Index fell 0.8%.

In corporate news, shares in Telecom of New Zealand fell by the most in more than three weeks in Wellington after the company said the CEO would leave, which raised concerns also over a structural split which may leave earnings more vulnerable. Telecom shares were down by around 3.6%. Olam International – a supplier of agricultural commodities – jumped 6.9% in Singapore after posting higher fourth- quarter profit.

In metals, spot gold spot gold advanced 2.6% yesterday after a statement showed some Fed policy makers favored more aggressive action by the central bank and data showed consumer confidence slumped. Gold has surged 29% this year, heading for an 11th year of gains. It gave away some of its gains to settle at US$1,834.63 an ounce ahead of European markets opening.

 

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