While the rest of the world may not have eaten turkey on Thursday, they surely felt the effects of the heavy-duty shopping Americans undertook throughout the post-Thanksgiving weekend. According to figures released by the National Retail Federation, weekend U.S. sales totaled $45 billion, with the average shopper spending 6.4% more than they did during last year's Black Friday weekend. Items snapped up by the 212 million online and in-store shoppers included deals on Barbie dolls, flat screen tvs, computers and jewelry -- not just essentials for sure, raising hopes that the worst of the downturn may have passed.
The Hong Kong-based cargo companies that bring us the goods rose today with China Merchants Holdings spiking 4.4%, Cosco Pacific leaping 1.8% and China COSCO adding 0.8%.
Other big winners on the Hong Kong board included oil companies, with PetroChina gaining 3.1% and Cnooc advancing 1.7%. Internet and gaming companies doing business in China also soared today with Tencent rocketing up 3.5% and China Unicom rising 1%.
Falling Yen Helps Japanese Exporters
In Japan, exporters zipped higher, helped along by a fall in the value of the yen against the dollar, making those profits reaped from happy American shoppers worth even more when funds are transferred back to Japan. Among the winners were Sony, realizing a 2.8% gain and competitor Nintendo, climbing 2.2%. Fast Retailing, which is pushing the return of stripey leg warmers and selling $19 angora hunting caps at its Uniqlo shops, rose 0.7%, and Canon and Panasonic both gained 1%.
Among Japanese carmakers Nissan shot up 1.5%, Honda saw a 0.7% gain and Toyota crept up 0.3%. Car buyers usually wait until Christmas to make that big purchase, but that didn't stop the flood of sweet deals like 0% interest for 60 months on a new Prius, according to blogger Angelo Racoma on TFTS.
Japanese trading companies had a great day today with Marubeni jumping 3.6%, after Goldman boosted the company's rating to "buy". Sojitz Corp surged 3.7%, Itochu Corp. advanced 1.5% and Mitsubishi Corp., which trades in commodities advanced 0.9%.
Chines Investors Continue to Worry About Tightening Measures
In China there was no such jubilation as investors wonder where the economy will feel the stress of tightening policies. The Shanghai gauge has declined 9.3% since Nov. 8, and continued that slide today. Commodities producers were among today's biggest losers with Jiangxi Copper falling 2.2% and Aluminum Corp. of China slipping 1.4%. Even Zijin Mining, which counts gold among its most valuable products, tumbled 2.4%.
Chinese banks slid lower, hampered by lending restrictions and a requirement to hold more cash in comparison to the amount they lend out. Today Industrial & Commercial Bank lost 0.7% and Agricultural Bank of China dipped 0.4%.
One bright spot was Chinese pharmaceutical shares, which some predict will hold their value even if the economy shrinks. Today Shanghai Fosun increased 2.8%, Shandong Dong-E E-Jiao climbed 2% and Yunnan Baiyao Group, which makes traditional remedies, advanced 1.8%. But even while the sector rose overall, some pharma companies closed lower. China Resources Sanjiu Medical & Pharmaceutical dived 1.7% and North China Pharmaceutical lost 0.6%.