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Asia Markets: Most Asian stocks rise, but Seoul slides

By Virginia Harrison, MarketWatch

SYDNEY (MarketWatch) — Most Asian markets notched slim gains on Thursday, with resource stocks driving gains in Australia, but South Korean shares tumbled as trading resumed after a break.

Australia’s SP/ASX 200 index


/quotes/zigman/1653884 AU:XJO
+0.60%



 rose 0.5% and China’s Shanghai Composite


/quotes/zigman/1859015 CN:000001
+0.40%



gained 0.4%, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index


/quotes/zigman/2622475 HK:HSI
+0.36%



 and Japan’s Nikkei Stock Average


/quotes/zigman/5986735 JP:100000018
+0.24%



 each added 0.2%.


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Stocks rebound to end 5-day slide

Stocks bounced back from a recent string of losses, after a strong start to the corporate-earnings season and a drop in Spanish and Italian government borrowing rates.

South Korea’s Kospi


/quotes/zigman/1652118 KR:0100
-0.90%



 lost 1% to trade at a level not seen for more than two months, as investors played catch-up after a one-day break for elections — which saw the ruling conservative party retain power.

A planned rocket launch in neighboring North Korea was also closely watched.
Read more on the planned North Korean missile launch.

U.S. stocks bounced on Wednesday — with the Dow Jones Industrial Average


/quotes/zigman/627449 DJIA
+0.70%



 snapping a five session losing streak — as investors welcomed Alcoa Inc’s


/quotes/zigman/246295/quotes/nls/aa AA
+6.22%



  strong start to earnings season, and a drop in Spanish and Italian bond yields.
Read more on the U.S. session.

“Compression of yield spreads and the rebound in stock markets is welcome, as it helps to avoid a vicious circle of plunging confidence,” Ken Wattret, BNP Paribas strategist said.

Muted gains

In Hong Kong, property firms recovered after recent weakness. China Resources Land Ltd.


/quotes/zigman/14892 HK:1109
+1.74%






/quotes/zigman/14893 CRBJF
-5.85%



  jumped 2.2%, Agile Property Holdings Ltd.


/quotes/zigman/35535 HK:3383
+0.72%



 


/quotes/zigman/35536 AGPYF
-7.88%



 climbed 1.9% and Guangzhou RF Properties Co.


/quotes/zigman/36515 HK:2777
+2.01%



 


/quotes/zigman/36513 GZUHF
+8.97%



 added 1.6%.

On the downside, shares in China Coal Energy Co.


/quotes/zigman/507020 CCOZY
-0.36%



 


/quotes/zigman/37836 HK:1898
-2.20%



 fell 0.9% after a flooding accident at a mine operated by a unit killed four miners, prompting a suspension of all operations by that unit.

Linus Yip, strategist at First Shanghai Securities in Hong Kong, said trading remained subdued ahead of key China data due Friday.

“The market is having a technical rebound, turnover is very light meaning there’s still not much buying interest” Yip said.

“Some investors are sidelined ahead of China’s GDP figure due out tomorrow, and more signs on the [strength] of the Chinese economy,” he added.

Yen steady

Some Tokyo-listed exporters moved ahead, with the Japanese yen


/quotes/zigman/4868099/sampled USDJPY
+0.0133%



 relatively steady. The dollar bought ¥80.86, from ¥80.94 in North American trade late Wednesday.

Panasonic Corp.


/quotes/zigman/194943 JP:6752
+1.83%



 


/quotes/zigman/525474/quotes/nls/pc PC
+1.37%



 climbed 1.6%, while Mazda Motor Corp.


/quotes/zigman/195040 JP:7261
+0.76%



 


/quotes/zigman/527479 MZDAY
-1.99%



 added 0.8% and Pioneer Corp.


/quotes/zigman/196846 JP:6773
+0.51%






/quotes/zigman/529202 PNCOY
-1.79%



, traded up 1%.

Shares in Hitachi Construction Machinery


/quotes/zigman/198746 JP:6305
+2.60%



 


/quotes/zigman/529196 HTCMY
+3.05%



 jumped 2.7% after the Nikkei business daily reported the firm is expected to deliver a near 40% lift in consolidating operating profit for the fiscal year.

South Korea exporters underperformed. Samsung Electronics Co.


/quotes/zigman/189555 SSNGY
0.00%



  tumbled 3% and LG Electronics Inc.


/quotes/zigman/302529 LGEIY
0.00%



 dropped 4.1%.

Some strategists said the election result could help sentiment.

“The surprise win by the ruling party could help reduce policy uncertainties. Political developments are still an important factor for markets however, given the upcoming December presidential elections,” said strategists at Goldman Sachs.

Shares in Korean Air Lines Co. fell 1.4% after a bomb threat forced one of its aircraft to make an emergency landing in Canada on Wednesday.

Resources firm

In Australia, commodity-linked firms advanced amid a slight improvement in global sentiment.

Global miner BHP Billiton Ltd.


/quotes/zigman/180893 AU:BHP
+0.65%



 


/quotes/zigman/270355/quotes/nls/bhp BHP
+0.48%



 rose 0.7%. Rival Rio Tinto Ltd.


/quotes/zigman/176317 AU:RIO
+1.34%



 


/quotes/zigman/182541/quotes/nls/rio RIO
+1.32%



 put on 1% and PanAust Ltd.


/quotes/zigman/157518 AU:PNA
+5.05%



  surged 5.1% after it said its copper output rose in the first quarter.

Shares in Alumina Ltd.


/quotes/zigman/315546 AU:AWC
+0.85%



 


/quotes/zigman/315512/quotes/nls/awc AWC
+2.31%



 climbed 1.4% after partner Alcoa’s profit result was well-received by U.S. investors.

Energy plays were higher, with Santos Ltd.


/quotes/zigman/181202 AU:STO
+1.19%



 


/quotes/zigman/569400 SSLTY
-0.28%



 up 1.1% and Oil Search Ltd.


/quotes/zigman/204156 AU:OSH
+1.16%



 


/quotes/zigman/129772 OISHY
+2.03%



 up 1.2%, after crude-oil futures jumped above $102-a-barrel in New York trading on Wednesday.

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Virginia Harrison is a MarketWatch reporter based in Sydney.

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