In Asia Wednesday, the Nikkei Index gained 1.1 percent to close at 9,800 and the Hang Seng Index rose 2.1 percent to close at 21,242 -- Hong Kong's biggest gain in three weeks.
In Japan, banking shares were on the rise as positive sentiment about the U.S. financial sector grew. Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group Inc. (SMFJY) surged 7 percent, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MTU), climbed 5.3 percent and Mizuho Financial Group (MFG) rose 2.7 percent. Nomura Holdings (NMR), the country's biggest brokerage, added 1.3 percent.A rise in commodity prices sent shares in Japanese trading houses higher, with Mitsubishi Corp. (MSBHY), which attributes 39 percent of its sales to the U.S., soaring 5.3 percent and Mitsui & Co. (MITSY) advancing 5.1 percent. Metal companies also surged with Pacific Metals Co. Ltd, (PFMTF) a member of the Nippon Steel Group, climbing 6.8 percent. Metal and mineral company Dowa Holdings Co. Ltd. (DWMNF) rallied 6 percent and JFE Holdings (JFEEF) climbed 5.3 percent. Nippon Mining Holdings Inc. (NMHDF) rose 4 percent and Nippon Steel Corp. (NISTY) gained 3.5 percent.
Fujikura Ltd., (FKURF) maker of optical fiber cables, soared 10 percent after Citigroup raised its rating to buy, while electrical machinery company Meidensha Corp. (MEIVF), which was in danger of being removed from the Nikkei 225 in September, rocketed 9.7 percent. Hitachi Ltd. (HIT) climbed 7 percent after Mizuho Securities upgraded its rating of the electronics and communications company.
In Hong Kong, the real estate sector fared well on the prediction that mortgage rates will remain low until mid-2010. According to Bloomberg, mortgages are at their lowest rates in at least 19 years. Sino Land Co. (SNLAY) reaped a 4.9 percent gain, Hang Lung Properties Ltd. (HLPPF) rose 4 percent and China Overseas Land & Investment Ltd. (CAOVF) was up 2.6 percent.
As gold hit $1,034 yesterday, gold-related stocks rose in Hong Kong with Lingbao Gold Co. Ltd. (LGBOF) gaining 4.7 percent, Zhaojin Mining Industry Co. Ltd (ZHAOF) rising 4.6 percent, Zijin Mining Group Co. Ltd. (ZIJMF) adding 4.2 percent and Real Gold Mining Ltd. up 4.2 percent. But some feel it's not the time to buy gold. Investor Jim Rogers says he is not buying gold right now. "I own some gold and I am optimistic about the price of gold but I don't think I would buy it," he blogs. "The gold is near its all-time high, I think I would rather buy silver," he adds.
In true Hong Kong spirit, a company that designs and sells fine jewelry became the first IPO since last month to gain share price in its debut. Eternite International Co., which caters to Hong Kongers' endless appetite for luxury products, ended the day up 62 percent after rallying as much as 412 percent during the session. 160 million shares sold at 25 cents each.
For today in Hong Kong, all that glitters really is gold.
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