Thanks to Ben Bernanke's brand new rescue package, shares in Asia rose sharply Thursday. In Japan the Nikkei 225 Index climbed 2.2% to close at 9,359 and in China the Shanghai Composite Index advanced 1.8% to 3,087. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index rose 1.6% to end the day at 24,536.
Eager investors shoved money eastward into fast-growing companies based in some of the world's most rapidly expanding markets. But while the additional liquidity and higher share prices will generate wealth in the short term, some are already blaming the U.S. for inflating asset prices and boosting currencies, which countries like Japan have been fighting hard to suppress. Criticizing of the quantitative easing package, nicknamed QE2, one Chinese Central Bank adviser accused the U.S. of "'uncontrolled' money printing," according to Bloomberg, and Japan's prime minister charged the government with adopting a "weak dollar policy." But today, money was made on surging stocks.
In Japan Fast Retailing, operator of the trendy and fairly priced Uniqlo shops fast becoming the new Gap, soared 8.1%, celebrating the fact that domestic sales fell only 1.1% last month, the smallest drop the clothier has seen in three months. But the sales didn't come easy, with Heattech thermal tops and bottoms selling quickly, but at heavily discounted prices. Last year, similar items were flying off the shelves at full price. Glitzy department store Takashimaya surged 4.1% and J. Front Retailing jumped 2.7%.
Japanese car makers fared well with Nissan shooting up 3.9%, saying it expects its global sales to continue to surge after seeing its net income quadruple last quarter, according to Bloomberg. Toyota climbed 2.3%, Mazda gained 2%, Honda rose 1.5% and Isuzu advanced 1%.
Other winners in Japan today included Minebea, a maker of ball bearings, which climbed 5.6%, Tokyo Electron, which gained 3.1% and commodities trader Mitsubishi Corp., which advanced 3.1%.
China Investors Look to Metals
In China, shares in commodities rebounded as investors flocked to metals as a hedge against inflation. Zhongjin Gold spiked 2.1%, Aluminum Corp. of China, or Chalco, gained 1.4, Zijin Mining rose 1.3% and Yunnan Copper advanced 1.2%.
Among coal miners, Yanzhou Coal rocketed up 4.6%, China Shenhua Energy leaped1.8% and China Coal Energy saw a 0.9% rise. Steel producers also gained with Maanshan Iron & Steel climbing 1%, Baoshan Iron & Steel adding 0.5% and Wuhan Iron & Steel creeping up 0.4%.
Shanghai Friendship Group hit the 10% daily limit. The company runs department stores, supermarkets and food businesses and also deals in real estate. The firm has ironed out a $2.4 billion deal to acquire Shanghai Bailian, another department store and property company. Shanghai Bailian zoomed up 9.1%.
Hong Kong Property Doesn't Lose Its Shine
Hong Kong property developers made huge gains with Sino Land soaring 6.1%, New World Development catapulting up 4.7%, Cheung Kong climbing 3%, Henderson Land advancing 2.2% and Hang Lung gaining 2%. Swire Pacific, proud operator of a multitude of businesses ranging from malls to airlines, shot up 4.2% and Wharf Holdings, which gets its name from its long history of running businesses on Victoria Harbour, including the Star Ferry, and now the sprawling Ocean Terminal mall, surged 3.8%. Hong Kong property has not lost its shine, and some of the additional cash in the hands of investors is sure to find its way towards some of the world's most expensive homes.
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