Asian markets mostly up
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HONG KONG, Feb 20 AFP
February 20 2013, 10:18PM
Asian markets have mostly climbed, with dealers taking a positive cue from Wall Street and Europe, following a surge in investor confidence in eurozone powerhouse Germany.
Japanese shares posted healthy gains on Wednesday as the yen softened and data showed exports rose for the first time in eight months in January, although the country still posted its worst ever monthly trade deficit.
Tokyo added 0.84 per cent, or 95.94 points, to 11,468.28, while Sydney was up 0.33 per cent, or 16.8 points, to 5,098.7 points - its highest close since September 2008.
Seoul jumped 1.95 per cent, or 38.81 points to 2,024.64 and Hong Kong was up 0.71 per cent, or 163.50 points, at 23,307.41, while Shanghai added 0.60 per cent, or 14.27 points, to 2,397.18.
On Wall Street investors returned from a three-day weekend to send the Dow and S&P 500 to more than five-year highs thanks to fresh merger and acquisition news.
The Dow rose 0.39 per cent to its best level since October 12, 2007 and the S&P 500 was up 0.73 per cent, hitting its highest point since October 31, 2007. The Nasdaq gained 0.68 per cent.
Reports office supply retailers Office Depot and OfficeMax were planning a tie-up followed last week's news of a merger between American Airlines and US Airways, and the Berkshire Hathaway-3G Capital takeover of Heinz.
Hopes for an end to Europe's long struggles were given a fillip by the widely watched ZEW economic institute investor confidence index in Germany, which soared to 48.2 points in February from 31.5 points in January, its highest level since April 2010.
The reading beat market expectations for a much more modest increase to just 35 points this month.
On currency markets the dollar was at 93.40 yen, against 93.54 yen in New York on Tuesday.
The single European currency bought 125.29 yen and $1.3419 compared with 125.24 yen and $1.3390 in US trade.
Official data on Wednesday showed Japan logged its worst ever trade deficit in January, with a shortfall of 1.63 trillion yen, more than the 1.3 trillion forecast. That came despite exports seeing first gain since June.
In Sydney mining giant BHP Billiton said its first half net profit fell 58 per cent, but also announced that its chief executive Marius Kloppers will retire in May, to be replaced by the man who has headed the firm's non-ferrous division since 2008.
The firm's shares were 0.56 per cent lower in early trade.
On oil markets New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in March gained 39 cents to $97.05 a barrel and Brent North Sea crude for delivery in April dropped 28 cents to $117.28.
Gold was at $1,595.20 at 1100 GMT, compared with $1,612.50 late on Tuesday.
In other markets:
-- Taiwan rose 68.22 points, or 0.86 per cent, to 8,029.1.
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co added 1.87 per cent to Tw$109.0, while Hon Hai Precision was 0.83 per cent higher at Tw$84.8.
-- Manila rose 0.42 per cent higher, or 27.85 points, to a record 6,648.57.
SM Investments Corp. gained 0.70 per cent to 1,007 pesos while Megaworld Corp. rose 0.26 per cent to 3.90 pesos.
-- Wellington fell 0.71 per cent, or 29.97 points, to 4,214.24.
-- Singapore closed up 0.40 per cent, or 13.12 points, at 3,308.89.
Capitaland increased 1.52 per cent to Sg$4.01 and Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation gained 0.50 per cent to Sg$10.03.
-- Kuala Lumpur shed 1.74 points, or 0.11 per cent, to close at 1,613.33.
DiGi.com lost 1.9 per cent to 4.61 ringgit, while Telekom Malaysia slipped 1.3 per cent to close at 5.15. YTL Corp added 1.3 per cent to 1.60 ringgit.
-- Jakarta closed up 32.39 points, or 0.70 per cent, at 4,634.45.
-- Astra Agro Lestari rose 2.16 per cent to 18,900 rupiah, while retailer Ramayana Lestari Sentosa jumped 5.31 per cent to 1,190 rupiah. Cigarette maker Hanjaya Mandala Sampoerna slid 1.35 per cent to 73,000 rupiah.
-- Bangkok added 0.95 per cent, or 14.57 points, to 1,546.64.
Power giant Electricity Generating Public Co. lost 0.66 per cent to 151.50 baht, while Thai Airways International added 4.08 per cent to 25.50 baht.
-- Mumbai edged up 0.04 per cent, or 7.03 points, to 19,642.75.
Reliance Industries rose 3.13 per cent to 875.35 rupees.