Asia stocks hit 14-mth high ahead of earnings
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Last Updated: Tuesday, October 13, 2009, 10:08
  
Hong Kong: Asian stocks edged up to a 14-month high, while the US dollar steadied on Tuesday, with some investors taking bets that third-quarter US corporate earnings, expected to shrink for the ninth quarter, will be good enough to keep a rally going.

Oil prices slipped below USD 73 a barrel after settling at a seven-week high on Monday. A steady 11 percent decline in the US dollar against a basket of currencies since March has supported commodity prices, which are mostly priced in dollars.

Wall Street finished higher on Monday, but some late session profit-taking made some investors unsure how to play results from the world's biggest chip maker Intel, which is due to report after New York market close on Tuesday.

The focus will be on the outlook for business spending given Intel's global reach.

"When Intel reports earnings, its outlook will likely be particularly in focus. If chipmakers were to say they expect demand to increase, that would mean the economy is on the mend," said Mitsuo Shimizu, deputy general manager at Cosmo Securities in Tokyo.

Asian energy, financial stocks gain

After a long holiday weekend, Japan's Nikkei share average rose 0.4 percent, with electronics and car maker stocks providing the main support to the index.

The MSCI index of Asia Pacific shares outside Japan rose 0.6 percent in choppy trading to the highest since August 12. The energy and financial sectors outperformed, while IT and consumer discretionary underperformed.

South Korea's benchmark KOSPI fell 1 percent, the worst performing major market in the region, on fears earnings may peak in the third quarter.

A report that Norea Korea was preparing to fire more short-range missiles a day after it launched five off its east coast had a limited impact on financial markets.

This week 29 companies in the S&P 500 will post results, including Citigroup and Goldman Sachs. The entire S&P 500 is expected to show earnings shrank 25 percent in the third quarter compared with a year ago, though financials will reflect the highest growth rate of any industry, at 58 percent, Thomson Reuters research showed.

In currency markets, the US dollar had a respite. The euro was largely unchanged at USD 1.4775 and the dollar was trading at 89.85 yen, steady on the day.

However, the ICE Futures US dollar index, which gauges its value against a basket of six other major currencies, was still close to a 14-month low hit last Thursday.

US crude for November delivery fell 28 cents to USD 72.99 a barrel , after rising for three straight sessions to settle at a seven-week high the previous day.

A monthly report by producer group OPEC, due later in the day, as well as the direction of equity markets, could also offer clues on the outlook for global oil demand.

"Sentiment is moderately positive, and while fundamentals do not necessarily justify higher prices, the trend of a weaker dollar has been a big boost," said Sumisho Sano, General Manager of Research at SCM Securities in Tokyo.

Bureau Report


First Published: Tuesday, October 13, 2009, 10:08


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