Stocks in Bombay rose Friday as market players ignored more troublesome inflation data. The wholesale price index jumped to three-year highs of 7.57% for the week ending on April 19, up from 7.33% a week earlier, due to rising costs for rice, milk, tea, vegetables and manufactured goods. Economists had forecast a 7.42% increase. Analysts in the region said that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh might be forced to take more drastic measures to tame inflation, or risk losing public support in the general elections next year. "People now realize that inflation is expected to remain around that level. So, the same piece of bad news will not impact the market every week," said Daljeet Kohli, head of research at Emkay Share & Stock Brokers. The Bombay Stock Exchange's Sensex Index surged 312.81 points, or 1.81%, to 17,600.12. Indian auto maker company Tata Motors ( TTM) reported sales including exports in April fell 5.8% to 38,149 units, vs. 40,486 units in the same month a year earlier, due to falling demand for passenger cars. Passenger car sales in April declined 12% to 14,843 units, while commercial vehicles jumped 7% to 21,001 units. American depositary shares of TTM rose 1% to $17.15. Infosys Technologies ( INFY), a leading information technology firm in India, announced it might be forced to change its name in France after a civil court ruled on April 15 that its name infringes on the trademark and corporate identity of French firm Infosys France. The company said it will appeal the ruling and has sought a stay on the decision, but failure to obtain a stay on the ruling, or an adverse final decision, might force the company to change its name and could damage its operations in France. Shares of INFY advanced 1.5% to $44.94. Indian banking giant ICICI Bank ( IBN) announced it isn't in a hurry to sell a stake in its securities division and will wait for the right time to do so, according to Chief Executive K.V. Kamath. The bank plans to raise $1 billion by selling up to a 15% stake in its investment banking and brokerage division ICICI Securities Ltd., in a sale of shares to the public and select strategic investors. Shares of IBN traded up 2.5% to $46.90. Leading the pack among Indian ADRs Friday were, Rediff.com ( REDF), which added 5.3% to $9.20; Satyam Computer ( SAY), which advanced 4.5% to $27.18; and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam ( MTE), which closed higher by 3% to $5.76. 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.
Stocks in Hong Kong soared Friday after the Monetary Authority, the region's central bank, cut the base rate for its discount window by 25 basis points to 3.5%, tracking the Federal Reserve's decision to drop the benchmark funds rate by 25 basis points to 2%. "Local shares took their lead from the strong showing on Wall Street," said Linus Yip, a strategist with First Shanghai Securities. Asian investors also ignored a report from Goldman Sachs Group saying it cut its outlook on the Chinese stock markets to market weight from overweight. In a note to clients, Goldman said valuations and risks to earnings makes the risk/reward equation for Chinese equities less compelling. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index closed up 485.67 points, or 1.89%, to 25,241.02. The Shanghai Index was closed on Friday for the national May Day holiday and will reopen on Monday. Baidu.com ( BIDU), China's top Internet search engine, has started a campaign to run user-generated Olympic slogans on its website, according to 163.com. The company plans to pick the best slogans and run them in key advertising spaces on its site. Baidu plans to donate more than 100 advertising slots worth around RMB10 million for the campaign. American depositary shares of BIDU slipped 2.3% to $361.50. Elsewhere in the Internet complex, S&P Equity Research downgraded shares of Chinese online financial data provider China Finance Online ( JRJC) from buy to hold, citing valuation. Shares of JRJC finished up 3% to $22.66. Hong Kong-based maker of pop-culture collectibles Corgi International ( CRGI) announced it has sold the Corgi collectibles die-casting business along with the Corgi Classics brand, tooling and intellectual property rights to U.K.-based Hornby Hobbies Limited for around $15 million. Shares of CRGI closed down 1.9% to $1.00. The Chinese airline sector took off Friday, despite crude oil prices rising $3.82 to $116.34 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. China Eastern Airlines ( CEA) ripped higher by 8.6% to $48.40 and China Southern Airlines ( ZNH) surged 6.9% to $36.03. Chinese independent insurance agency and brokerage company CNinsure ( CISG) announced it has inked a deal with Jinan-based automobile dealer Xinguangyuan Group to jointly launch an auto insurance agency called Shangdong CNinsure Xinguangyuan Insurance Agency. Under the terms of the deal, CNinsure will control a 51% stake in the new company, which will focus on selling auto insurance in Shangdong. Shares of CISG rose 1% to $14.57. Some big movers among Chinese-based stocks Friday were, PacificNet ( PACT), which ripped higher by 17% to $1.43; Home Inns & Hotels Management ( HMIN), which jumped 11% higher to $25.08; China Sunergy ( CSUN), which surged 9.7% to $8.98; and AirMedia Group ( AMCN), which closed higher by 7.7% to $21.71. 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.