Ja­panese stocks up, min­ers drag on Aus­tralia

The Pak Banker - - I Nternational -

SINGAPORE: Asian shares rose on Wed­nes­day, with Ja­pan's Nikkei main­tain­ing a fourth quar­ter rally as in­vestors hunted bar­gains in one of the de­vel­oped world's cheap­est mar­kets, but Aus­tralia's main in­dex lagged as bad weather hit shares in min­ing heavy­weights.

The dol­lar was steady af­ter a sharp re­ver­sal against the euro in an er­ratic pre­vi­ous ses­sion, while the Swiss franc held near a record high against both the dol­lar and the euro as in­vestors sought refuge from euro zone debt.

A weaker dol­lar had lifted de­mand for com­modi­ties priced in the U.S. cur­rency, and London Metal Ex­change cop­per rose to a record $9,437.50 a tonne on Wed­nes­day, boosted also by a stop­page at a key port in ma­jor pro­ducer Chile.

Cop­per's strength failed to sup­port min­ing giants Rio Tinto (RIO.AX) and BHP Bil­li­ton (BHP.AX), which both fell more than 1 per­cent as heavy rain dis­rupted min­ing and ship­ping op­er­a­tions. China's Christ­mas Day in­ter­est rate rise also prompted in­vestors to fret about weaker de­mand for in­dus­trial met­als, but an­a­lysts said the im­pact was likely to be short­lived.

"The Chi­nese rate rise was key but it ap­pears it is more about curb­ing in­fla­tion and de­mand for base met­als will not fall sharply," said Ben Pot­ter, re­search an­a­lyst at IG Mar­kets.

Tokyo's Nikkei (.N225) rose 0.5 per­cent, de­spite the stronger yen that hurt some big ex­porters such as Canon Inc (7751.T). The Nikkei has risen nearly 10 per­cent in the fi­nal quar­ter of 2010, al­though it is down 2 per­cent for the year.

With shares trad­ing around 1.1 times book value, Ja­pan re­mains one of the cheap­est de­vel­oped mar­kets af­ter debthit Ire­land, Greece and Italy.

"There is no solid rea­son to sell Ja­panese shares ac­tively as the out­look for the mar­ket is still bright," said Mit­sushige Akino, chief fund man­ager at Ichiyoshi In­vest­ment Man­age­ment. MSCI's broad­est in­dex of Asia Pa­cific shares out­side Ja­pan (.MIAPJ0000PUS) was also up 0.5 per­cent and has risen more than 13 per­cent this year. -Reuters

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