August 15th, 2011
10:03 AM GMT
Hong Kong, China (CNN) – Today in Asia-Pacific, markets closed the day higher across the board, adding to moderate gains this past Friday. Better-than-expected GDP data from Japan and four-month high retail numbers from the United States helped boost investor confidence. Markets started in the green and kept climbing through the day. By the close, we saw major markets gain between 1.30% and 3.26%.
The Nikkei ended up 1.37% to close past the psychological 9,000-mark. Japan’s latest GDP number also came out. They showed the country’s economy shrank 1.3% year-on-year. Anemic? Yes. A good number, regardless? Definitely. Forecasts had expected Japan’s GDP contraction to come in at about 2.5%. The yen, though, is still a chronic concern for exporters. As of 4.30 pm Hong Kongtime, it was trading at 76.82 to the dollar. Automakers veered around the yen’s strength. Toyota rose 2.9%, Nissan rose 3.3% and Honda throttled ahead at 3.4%.
In Greater China, the Hang Seng closed up 3.26% and won the title of the best market performer of the day. That was a big turnaround from last week when it lost 3.4% over that five-day period. Petroleum and financial-related stocks lubricated the market. CNOOC, China’s biggest offshore oil producer, closed up more than 5.1%. HSBC and Bank of China rose 3.8% and 5.1% respectively. Ping An Insurance was the index’s biggest gainer, soaring 8.7%. In the mainland, the Shanghai Composite gained throughout the day and ended up 1.3%. Still, China’s stubborn inflation remains the dragon in the room. That stands at 6.5% – the highest in more than three years.
In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 ended 2.64% higher. Mining-related stocks rose on hopes that resource demand would pick up after last week’s unprecedented market volatility. BHP Billiton, the world’s largest mining company, closed up nearly 4%. But shares in Newcrest Mining, the world’s number three gold miner, closed lower by 0.81% as gold prices pulled back from a record high. Last Thursday, the safe-haven commodity touched a record above $1800/oz.
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