Asian equity markets started the year on a positive note, with Hong Kong, Sydney and Jakarta setting fresh records and Taipei climbing to its highest level for more than six years. Several markets in the region remained closed for holidays, including Tokyo, Singapore and Bangkok.
Hong Kong continued its recent bull run as investors continued to snap up Chinese financial stocks. The Hang Seng index jumped 345.46 points, or 1.7 per cent, to 20,310.18, after hitting an all-time high of 20,323.59 in late afternoon trade.
The index of China Enterprise stocks, or H shares, climbed another 2.8 per cent, after surging 94 per cent in 2006.
Bank of China rose 4.9 per cent to HK$4.48 and Industrial and Commercial Bank of China added 5.8 per cent to HK$5.11. PICC Property and Casualty, the mainland’s biggest non-life insurer, jumped 12 per cent to HK$4.47.
Sydney inched up to new highs as uranium stocks moved ahead amid expectations of increased demand. The S&P/ASX 200 index edged up just 0.3 points to a record close of 5,670.2, after reaching a fourth successive life-high of 5,690.7.
Uranium explorer Deep Yellow jumped 16.1 per cent to A$0.47 and Energy Resources of Australia rose 1.9 per cent to A$21.20. John Howard, the country’s prime minister, urged regional governments to end bans on new uranium mines.
Macquarie Bank rose 0.9 per cent to a record close of A$70.65 amid expectations that it would launch further takeover bids in 2007.
Jakarta set new records for the third day in a row amid expectations of robust economic growth and lower interest rates in Indonesia this year. The composite index rose 31.40 points, or 1.7 per cent, to 1,836.52.
Taipei was led higher by technology stocks following the government’s decision on Friday to allow semiconductor makers to produce more advanced chips in China.
MediaTek rose the daily 7 per cent limit to T$360.50, while Taiwan Semconductor Manufacturing edged up 0.3 per cent to T$67.70.
The weighted index rose 97.08 points, or 1.2 per cent, to 7,920.80, its best close since August 2000.
Mumbai was lifted by gains for carmakers following some strong sales figures from the sector. The BSE Sensex index rose 155.33, or 1.1 per cent, to 13,942.24, after setting a closing high of 13.972.03 in early December.
Bajaj Auto climbed 4.6 per cent to Rs2,738.75 while Maruti rose 4.5 per cent to Rs969.25.