Asia Stocks: Inflation Effects
India was no home for stock market bulls on Friday. Heavy selling swept through Bombay as concerns about rising inflation hit home for traders.
India's annual inflation rate spiked to a six-month high, coming in at 4.35% for the week ending Feb. 9, vs. 4.07% for the prior week. The blame for the acceleration in inflation was put squarely on India's rising energy and food prices. The benchmark Sensitive Index closed near the daily lows losing 385.61 points, or 2.17%, to 17,349.07.
Indian ADRs found little love among investors on Friday. Share declines were found across the board as the selling in Bombay found a home on the American exchanges. One bright spot was telecommunications firm Mahanagar Telephone Nigam (MTE). Shares of MTE were one of the few Indian ADRs to advance on Friday, trading up 1%.
Financial stocks ICICI Bank (IBN) and HDFC Bank (HDB - Get Report) were hit hard, falling 4.6% and 2.6%. It's worth noting that the selling volume on ICICI Bank was twice the average daily volume. Amidst that heavy trading volume, ICICI Bank announced plans to begin operations in Frankfurt, Germany next week. HDFC Bank said it plans to sell $1 billion of medium-term notes to help raise capital for future expansion plans. HDFC bank executives will also be meeting with the board of Centurion Bank of Punjab to discuss a possible merger of the two banks on Saturday. Speculation of the meeting -- which was denied Thursday by both parties -- was confirmed Friday.Indian technology and Internet stocks struggled to advance Friday. Losses were seen in shares of Patni Computer Systems (PTI), down 2.5%, Sify Technologies (SIFY - Get Report), off 2%, and Rediff.com (REDF), falling 2%. Information technology leader Satyam Computer fell 1% despite announcing plans to set up more centers of excellence directed at acquiring more market share out of the health care and insurance sectors, according to the Business Standard. Be sure to check out the Far East Portfolio at Stockpickr.com every night to find out which stocks in India and China are making big moves and announcing major news.
China RecapSharp losses were seen across the region, after rumors made the rounds that China's central bank could raise interest rates this weekend. The yuan continued to strengthen Friday after the People's Bank of China (PBOC) expressed their desire to use the currency as a policy tool to tame inflation. The benchmark Shanghai Index plunged 3.5% to 4,370.28. Hong Kong's consumer prices rose to 3.2% in January down from 3.8% in December. Consumer prices would have risen 4.3 percent if the government had not waived a property tax for the January to March period, a government spokesman said. The Hang Seng Index fell 1.4% to 23,305.04. Rumors continue to swirl around Chinese search engine Baidu.com (BIDU - Get Report). Chinaknowledge.com reported that several sources are saying Baidu.com could enter the instant message market in the near future. Shares of BIDU closed up 1%. Shares of Chinese medical device firm China Medical Technologies (CMED) were red hot, closing up 6% on above-average trading volume. Traders could be bidding up shares in anticipation of a solid earnings report from the company when they announce numbers on Feb. 29. Another hot Chinese name surging higher with no news was retail drug store chain China Nepstar Chain Drugstore (NPD). Shares of NPD were in strong demand surging 10% higher on above average trading volume. Online game operator The9 Limited (NCTY) ripped higher by 10% after the firm reported strong fourth-quarter earnings that beat Wall Street estimates. In a note to clients, Citi Investment Research analyst Alcia Yap maintained her hold rating and $21 price target on the stock. Another strong earnings report came out of China Digital TV Holding (STV). The Chinese provider of conditional access systems to the TV market reported four-quarter earnings well ahead of analysts estimates. Shares of STV traded up 3.5% on 4 times average trading volume.
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