Asian markets closed higher Friday. In China the Shanghai Composite Index climbed 2.3% to 2,471 and in Hong Kong the Hang Seng Index gained 1.6% to close at 20,379. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index added 0.5%, rising to 9,585.
Air travel must have been on everyone's minds in Asia after news broke that a UFO was detected over Hangzhou in eastern China. "It looked like a twinkling spot and disappeared very soon," an airline passenger who saw the UFO told CNN. According to China Daily, the 9 pm sighting resulted in the closure of Xiaoshan Airport. Flights were re-routed and passengers endured lengthy delays. Officials say they now know what the UFO was, but are not ready to disclose any information about it, hinting that it may be military-related.
Either Asian investors took the UFO as a sign, or it was the data showing that air travel is on the rebound and that Asian airlines are predicted to recover from the doldrums much faster than U.S. carriers, but today shares in Chinese airlines surged. China Eastern Airlines rallied 5.6%, China Southern Airlines climbed 4.1% and Air China gained 3.9%. According to Bloomberg, three-star rated Air China has big plans to improve the passenger experience, including making the seats more comfortable and the planes cleaner -- all this in an effort to compete with 5-star rated Cathay Pacific for international travelers.
Among airplane-related companies, Shanghai International Airport rose, adding 3.3%, and Xi'an Aircraft International, which makes airplane components, advanced 3.3%.
Real estate shares surged in China after a report surfaced in the Oriental Morning Post saying that some banks were flouting the rules and approving mortgages for third home purchases. New regulations limit the number of homes each family is allowed to buy. But according to Bloomberg, while applications have been filed, no one has been granted a loan for a third home. Today Poly Real Estate climbed 3.8%, China Vanke rose 3.7% and Gemdale gained 2.5%.
In Hong Kong developers were also on the rise. Big gainers included Sino Land, which climbed 3%, China Overseas, which jumped 2.8%, Henderson Land, which leaped 2.6% and Sun Hung Kai, which advanced 2.2%.
Clothing and toy exporter Li & Fung skyrocketed 7.5%. The company has announced it has bought three companies for $140 million, reports Bloomberg, which the company's president and man-about-town Bruce Rockowitz says could bring in more than $1 billion in sales. Esprit also gained, rising 4.5%.
News that first-time unemployment claims in the U.S. dipped last week sent shares of Japanese exporters higher. Pioneer jumped 3%, Casio Computer gained 1.4%, Canon rose 1% and Sony advanced 0.9%.
IHI, a maker of heavy machinery including airplane engines and rocket propulsion systems, surged 5.4%, and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, which makes heavy machinery including planes, gained 0.6%. Perhaps Japan is in need of a little visit from a UFO.
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