Update from 6:10 p.m. EDTMarket players in India ignored three-year-high inflation data Friday and took up stocks across all sectors. Dealers in the region said the market has already priced in the high inflation risk, so short-sellers were forced to cover positions as buyers swept in with force. The Bombay Stock Exchange's benchmark 30-stock Sensex Index surged 377 points, or 2.3%, to 17,098. Wholesale prices jumped 7.33% in the 12 months to April 12, above last week's 7.14% but below analysts' estimates of a 7.38% rise. Analysts blamed the high figures on a spike in mineral prices and rising food and oil prices. The inflation data were the last reading before the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) meets on Tuesday for a policy review. Analysts are split as to if the RBI will hike rates with a thin majority predicting no change to interest rates, according to Reuters. "Though the measures to contain inflation may result in some moderation in the economic growth, it is the endeavor of the government to sustain the current momentum of high growth with price stability," said India's Finance Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram to parliament members Friday. Indian auto giant Tata Motors ( TTM) received clearance from the European Union competition authorities for its acquisition of luxury auto brands Jaguar and Land Rover from Ford Motor ( F) for $2.3 billion. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission also approved the deal on Wednesday. American depositary shares of Tata Motors, which trade on the NYSE, finished essentially flat at $16.05.
Market speculation was swirling around Indian telecom company Tata Teleservices that a major foreign player is looking to take a stake. Some of the companies that could be interested include South Korea Telecom ( SKM - Get Report), NTT DoCoMo ( DCM), KDDI of Japan and China Unicom ( CHU - Get Report), according to the timesofindia.com. Indian global communications company Tata Communications is the second largest shareholder in Tata Teleservices. Shares of Tata Communications closed up 0.8% at $24.80. India's largest Internet company, Sify Technologies ( SIFY), is planning to list its shares on the Indian stock market to capture growth in smaller cities, said Chairman and CEO Raju Vegesna. Vegesna told the Economic Times that Sify will move into 40-50 towns each quarter and provide network services to businesses and then set up cyber cafes for broadband connections for individuals. Shares of Sify finished essentially flat at $4.79. Leading the gainers list among Indian ADRs Friday were Rediff.com India ( REDF), which added 9% to $9.29; Icici Bank ( IBN), which rose 5.4% to $47.20; and HDFC Bank ( HDB), which traded up 4.6% to $114.88. 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.
The Shanghai Composite Index fell 25 points, or 0.7%, to 3,557, and Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index closed down 164 points, or 0.6%, at 25,516. Baidu.com ( BIDU - Get Report), China's search engine king, announced its first-quarter net profits surged as online marketing revenue more than doubled and the number of customers increased. The company said first-quarter net profits jumped 71% to $20.9 million, or 60 cents a share, matching Wall Street estimates; and revenue soared 108% to $81.9 million, vs. estimates of $75 million. The company said first-quarter online marketing revenue was $81.7 million, a 108.5% increase from a year earlier. Online marketing customers for the first-quarter came in at 161,000, a 43.8% rise from a year ago. Baidu forecasted higher second-quarter revenue in the range of $111 million to $114 million, vs. estimates of $101 million. Citi Investment Research analyst Jason Brueschke upgraded Baidu to buy from hold and raised his price target to $415 from $350, citing the bullish guidance and Baidu's ability to keep costs down. American depositary shares of Baidu ripped 6.3% higher to $363.69 on above-average trading volume. Citi Investment Research also upgraded Chinese Internet portal operator Sohu.com ( SOHU - Get Report) from hold to buy and raised its price target from $56 to $80. Analyst Jason Brueschke said Sohu.com will likely beat first-quarter profit estimates due to strong growth from its Olympics sponsorship and booming new online game sales. "The Olympics will likely help Sohu.com grow into 2009," said Brueschke. Susquehanna joined the party and raised its price target for Sohu.com to $68 from $61 and kept a positive rating on the stock. Shares of Sohu rose 6.6% to $61.84 on twice the stock's average daily trading volume.
VisionChina Media ( VISN), one of China's largest out-of-home TV advertising operators, announced blowout first-quarter revenue results and topped revenue estimates for the second quarter. VisionChina said first-quarter net revenue hit $13.6 million, an increase of 304.5% from a year ago, and first-quarter net income came in at $5.4 million, vs. a loss of $0.36 million from a year earlier. Advertising services revenue in the first quarter soared 326% to $13.2 million from a year ago, and the company signed up more than 380 advertisers for its networks. The company forecasted total revenues for the second-quarter to come in between the range of $19.2 million to $20.2 million, vs. Wall Street estimates of $18.95 million. Shares of VisionChina soared 6.4% higher to $15.63 on four times average daily volume. Some of the big winners among Chinese stocks that trade on the U.S. exchanges Friday were Actions Semiconductor ( ACTS), which jumped 11% to $3.90; Origin Agritech ( SEED), which added 10% to $6.48; China GrenTech which traded up 7.7% to $4.89; and SINA Corporation ( SINA), which rose 7.5% to $47.05. 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. For more on Asia, check out Daniel Harrison's coverage at TheStreet.com.