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Asian Markets Chase U.S. Rally

Mitsubishi UFJ (MTU) rose 6.26%, to 967 yen, Mizuho Financial (MFG) gained 6.4%, to 550,000 yen, while Sony (SNE), Canon (CAJ), and Toyota (TM) all jumped between 2.3% and 4.5%.

In currency trading, the dollar was buying 111.48 yen vs. 110.90 yesterday, according to Bloomberg.

In Korea, the Kospi finished up 40 points, or 2%, at 1972.

Beijing announced that retail sales in October rose 18.1% on the year. That's a record growth rate for retail sales, prompted in part by investors' stock market gains this year, said the announcement.

With recent falls in the major indices, strategists in Asia have been speculating when Hong Kong hedge funds would resume the practice of borrowing in Tokyo at 0.5% interest rates, and investing on the island, known as the yen carry trade.

Now, some say this may resume, and most agree with a bullish, if volatile, end to the year for Chinese equities, especially if the Federal Reserve cuts rates one more time in December.

"There's room for a U.S. interest rate cut -- that would spill down and create liquidity in Hong Kong and China markets. Secondly, we expect strong earnings at the end of 2007 and probably in 2008, too," says Peter So, head of Hong Kong and China strategy for DBS Vickers in Hong Kong. "That's a good reason for investors to allocate more funds to assets in Hong Kong and China."

So also expects Beijing to begin allowing more Chinese institutions to buy Hong Kong side shares, which would be a plus for most U.S. ADRs. He adds that most of the buying action will be seen in properties, financials and consumer stocks.

"Consumer stocks will benefit from high consumption in China and at the end of the year, when many workers get their bonus payments," says So. "I'm still working on [a target] but in 2008 the Hang Seng index will reach around 37,000 points. I think this is achievable."
Daniel M. Harrison is a business journalist specialising in European and emerging markets, in particular Asia. He has an MBA from BI, Norway and a blog at www.theglobalperspective.biz. He lives in New York.
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