Stocks in Hong Kong and Japan followed Wall Street's big overnight rally Thursday, but China's Shanghai Composite Index shrugged off the positive momentum, falling to a 12-month low.
In Japan, the Nikkei gained 252 points, or 1.9%, to 13,398.30, while the Hang Seng rose 381 points, or 1.6%, to 24,258.96. Meanwhile, the Shanghai Composite slumped 69 points, or 2.1%, to 3222.74, despite gains in commodity prices, which usually favor market heavyweights such as
Aluminum Corp. of China
Despite the resilience of Hong Kong's exchange to the mainland's woes, traders remain broadly cautious about the prospects for stocks there right now. After market hours Wednesday, Beijing announced it would raise the reserve requirement ratio -- the percentage of money banks must hold vs. deposits -- to 16%.
"I still haven't changed my view. I remain negative," says Miles Remington, head of trading for BNP Paribas in Hong Kong. "If you dig deeper, you get a little more truth. Consumer price inflation numbers are high, the reserve ratio has been raised again, and the major issues are still not certain."
Remington adds, however, that hedge funds are not facing redemptions, which is keeping stocks higher as there is no forced selling.
Among commodities, gold rose to near a two-week high, at $945.02 an ounce, while oil was trading around $114.90 a barrel during the Singapore afternoon. Momentum behind key commodities helped the dollar rise to a two-week high vs. the yen, at 102.32.
Commodity stocks in Hong Kong rose, despite the poor performance in many dual-listings on the mainland. PetroChina rose 3.5% to HK$10.10, and Aluminum Corp. of China added 3.3% to HK$12.40. Both stocks lost between 3.5% and 5% in Shanghai.
rose 2.4% to HK$7.62, and
( SIOGF) surged 6.5% to HK$42.60.
Among other gainers,
China Life Insurance
also posted strong results for the day. China Mobile finished up 1.3% to HK$129, and China Life gained 2.3% to HK$20.05. Dealers say that any potential weakness in the Hang Seng now is most likely to be reflected in shares of China Mobile, which they foresee declining as much as 5% from current levels as the market digests China's economic data.
Exporters in Japan were strong, tracking the gains in U.S.-listed ADRs overnight.
jumped 5.1% to 4950 yen, and
motored ahead 4.1% to 3020 yen.
added 4.3% to 4370 yen.
Financials also fared well.
did best, gaining 5.4%, to 468,000 yen.
Other markets in Asia followed Wall Street's gains, in line with Hong Kong and Japan. The Taiwanese Taiex rose 0.3% to 9090.43, and the South Korean Kospi added 0.6% to 1768.67. In India, the Bombay Sensitive Index gained 1.5% to 16,481.20.
Be sure to check out the Far East Portfolio at Stockpickr.com to find out which Indian and Chinese companies are making big moves and announcing major news.
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
. He lives in New York.