August 18th, 2011
10:38 AM GMT
Hong Kong, China (CNN) – Good economic news was lacking in Asia-Pacific this Thursday. With nothing to cling to, Japan’s Nikkei and Australia’s ASX 200 fell in morning trading. The Hang Seng and Shanghai Composite joined them down the slide in the afternoon. By the close, all major markets had fallen between 1% to 2%.
The strength of the Japanese yen hit export-related stocks hard, pulling the Nikkei down 1.25%. In early morning trade, the yen touched 76.41 to the U.S. dollar, creeping ever closer to its post-war record of 76.25. Toshiba and Hitachi were the biggest export losers all day, closing down 4% to 4.5%. As of 5pm Hong Kong time, the yen was trading at 76.61 to the dollar.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng fell a bit harder to close down 1.34%. On the bright side, the top gainer was the holding company of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange itself, also known as the Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing. It closed up 3.37%. The group is in joint-venture talks with both the Shanghai and Shenzhen exchanges that could potentially lead to a new index and increased investment between the mainland and Hong Kong.
The Shanghai Composite won the title for ‘biggest loser’ of Asia’s major markets. It closed down 1.61%, losing most ground in the last few hours of trade. New annual housing data showed a 4.3% rise in average home prices which helps to drive up consumer inflation. In a bit of a “Catch-22”, policy-tightening measures aimed at curbing inflation are also impacting growth. The bourse has lost more than 10% of its value year-to-date.
And Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 rounded out the losses to fall 1.22%. The big headline here was Foster’s rejection of a $10 billion hostile takeover bid from London-based SABMiller. This is the second time SABMiller has tried to add the owner of Australia’s largest brewer to its crown. Foster’s stock closed up 0.81%. Foster’s board has recommended shareholders reject the offer saying it “significantly undervalues” the company ; 90% of Foster’s shareholders are needed to approve the bid. Resource-related stocks, BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto, fell 1.81% and 1.45% respectively on investors fears of slowing global growth.
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