Asian markets rise on 26 August

Most Asian markets logged gains on Monday after Friday's weak US home sales data restored hopes that the Federal Reserve could maintain the current pace of its asset buys.

The Shanghai Composite was trading 1.74% higher or 35.83 points to 2,093.28.

The Hang Seng was trading 0.68% higher or 149.13 points to 22,012.64.

The Japanese Nikkei finished 0.18% lower or 24.27 points to 13,636.28.

Australia's S&P/ASX finished 0.23% higher or 12.00 points to 5,135.40.

South Korea's Kospi finished 0.95% higher or 17.70 points to 1,887.86.

US economic data showed that Americans bought fewer homes in July compared to June. Sales of newly built homes dropped 13.4% to 394,000 units, compared with 455,000 units in June. The July figure is the lowest for nine months.

Axel Merk, portfolio manager of Merk Funds told Reuters: "The fear is clearly that higher interest rates (are) going to topple (the) housing recovery, which means the Fed has to ease and not tighten." Merk Funds holds close to $500m in currency mutual-fund assets.

"The theme of 'bad news is good news', again rang true on Friday night with US stocks ending higher, despite less than forecast new home sales data," said Tim Radford, global analyst at Rivkin Securities.

"With tapering concerns off the agenda until we get close to the next FOMC meeting late September, reduced market anxiety may see [Australian] prices trend higher back toward all-time highs as investors again look to buy the dips," Radford said.

The Fed's FOMC is due to meet on 17 September, 29 October and 17 December.

Most stock markets across the region finished the week ended 24 August higher. Australia's S&P/ASX led the pack while South Korea's Kospi trailed.

Wall Street Up

On Wall Street, indices ended higher on 23 August. The Dow finished 0.31% higher or 46.77 points to 15,010.51. The S&P 500 closed 0.39% higher or 6.54 points to 1,663.50, while the Nasdaq ended 0.52% higher or 19.09 points to 3,657.79.

For the week ended 24 August, the Dow dropped 0.5%, the S&P moved up 0.5% and the Nasdaq gained 1.5%.

Company Stock Movements

In Tokyo, property developer Mitsui Fudosan gained 1.8% while rival Mitsubishi Estate moved up 1.3%. Tokyo's housing markets is improving supported by purchases and government stimulus.

Resona Holdings, Japan's fifth-largest bank by market value, gained 1%. Oil and gas major Inpex added 0.9%.

Automaker Suzuki Motor dropped 1.9% while diversified conglomerate Mitsubishi Electric shed 0.4%.

In Shanghai, Shanghai International Airport and Shanghai International Port Group rallied 9% each. Last week, Shanghai got the nod to set up the mainland's first free trade zone.

Gold and copper miner Zijin Mining Group gained 1.6% on higher gold prices. Gold ended higher last week, pushed up by downbeat US home sales data.

Coal miner China Shenhua Energy inched up 0.6% even after it reported a 4.8% drop in half-yearly profit.

Oil major China Petroleum and Chemical (Sinopec) inched up 0.5% in Shanghai after it reported a 24% increase in its first-half profit. The company benefited from China's new pricing mechanism that permits the pricing of fuel products in line with the international market.

China Construction Bank (CCB) inched up 0.2% after it reported a 13% increase in half-yearly profit.

In Hong Kong, Zijin Mining Group added 3.3% while China Shenhua Energy gained 2%. Kunlun Energy gained 1.6%, Sinopec added 1.2% while CCB inched up 0.7%.

Warren Buffet-backed electric cars maker BYD fell 7.4% after the company forecast a lower third-quarter profit.

In Sydney, gold miner Kingsgate Consolidated rallied 8.5% while rival Newcrest Mining shot up 7.4%.

Oil and gas major Santos added 1.8% while rival Woodside Petroleum shed 0.5% as the stock traded without dividend rights.

In Seoul, Korea Zinc added 3.5%, LCD panel maker LG Display added 2% and steel maker Posco moved up 1%.

Automaker Kia Motors gained 2% while rival and part-owner Hyundai Motor shot up 3%.