Asian markets were mixed Monday. In Japan the Nikkei 225 Index rose 1.1% to 9,828 and in China the Shanghai Composite Index advanced 1% to 3,014. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index slid 0.8% to end the day at 24,027.
New numbers out of Japan show that the island nation's economy outpaced economists' predictions, growing more than expected in the third quarter. According to Bloomberg, the country's GDP rose to an annualized 3.9% in the three months up to Sept. 30, with consumer spending rising during the quarter, especially on items like environmentally friendly cars, boosted by a government incentive program of nearly $3,000 cash back on cars purchased before Sept. 7.
But the good news may be short lived. The Japan Times reports that only 58% of final-year university students have lined up jobs for after graduation this spring -- far lower than any previous year and down 4.9% from last year's survey. So chances are that these unemployed twenty-somethings, usually avid consumers, won't be doing a lot of shopping.
Today, Japanese car makers surged with Isuzu climbing 2.1%, Mitsubishi Motor up 1.9%, Honda rising 1.7% and Fuji Heavy Industries up 1.2%. Mazda advanced 1.4% and Toyota, which makes the country's top selling car, rose 1.5%.
Among retailers J. Front Retailing, owner of the popular Matsuzakaya department stores with locations in Tokyo and Paris, shot up 2.9%, Fast Retailing soared 2.4% and up-scale Takashimaya inched up 0.3%. Seven & I, operator of 7-Eleven shops and Denny's restaurants in Japan, advanced 0.6%.
Computer-related firms also climbed higher with CSK Corp., a computer system and software company, rallying 5.6%. Advantest, a maker of semiconductor testing equipment surged 3.1% and Trend Micro, a developer of internet security software, headed up 2.2%.
In China, drugmakers were among today's winners with Jiangsu Hengrui Medicine soaring 9.3%, Kangmei Pharmaceutical leaping 8.7% and Huadong Medicine, which deals in both drugs and medical instruments, zipping up 6.7%. Zhejiang Medicine rose 3.9% and China National Medicines jumped 2.7%. Traditional Medicine companies also rocketed up with Shandong Dong-E E-Jiao, a company specializing in blood remedies derived from donkey skin, surging 6.3%.
Rumors Flying Over China Loans to Developers
Meanwhile rumors are swirling that the biggest banks in the People's Republic won't be issuing any new loans to developers this year, although the Wall Street Journal reports that while many banks, like Bank of China, have reached their annual quotas for loans, bank officials were unaware of an actual policy halting lending. Chinese-listed banking shares were mixed with China Construction Bank tumbling 2.6% and Bank of China falling 1.5%, while Industrial & Commercial Bank of China surged 6.8% and Agricultural Bank of China added 1.1%.
In Hong Kong, where banking and property rank among the top contributors to the region's economy, the apparent slow-down in loans for real estate development pulled the index lower. Hong Kong-listed shares of Agricultural Bank of China declined 1.9%, Industrial & Commercial Bank of China ended the day down 1.8% and Bank of China slipped 1.5%.
Developers, however, were mixed with New World Development falling 2.3% and China Resource Land dropping 1.6%, while Hang Lung gained 1.4%, Henderson Land advanced 0.5% and Sun Hung Kai edged up 0.2%. With all the liquidity flooding the Asian economies, perhaps savvy building tycoons have their eye on alternate funding resources.
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