Asian markets up after Buffett backs Goldman Sachs
Thursday, 25 September 2008

AP, HONG KONG -- Most Asian stock markets edged higher Wednesday as Warren Buffett's plan to invest at least $5 billion in Wall Street firm Goldman Sachs helped allay fears about the world's troubled financial sector.

In Japan, the benchmark Nikkei 225 index climbed 0.2 percent to close at 12,115.03 after languishing for much of the day in negative territory.
 
Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index climbed 0.5 percent to 18,961.99 points. Stock measures in mainland China, Australia and South Korea were higher, while Taiwan lost ground and Singapore finished flat.
 
A number of financial issues gained on news that Buffet's Berkshire Hathaway Inc. was investing in the Goldman Sachs Group Inc., a show of confidence in a company that has weathered Wall Street's financial turmoil better than most.
 
Wednesday's advance, though, was limited by investor anxiety over the outcome of U.S. Congressional debate of the government's $700 billion rescue plan for the financial sector.
 
''It helped investors for overall sentiment for now,'' Castor Pang, an analyst at Sun Hung Kai Financial in Hong Kong, said of Buffett's move. ''But long term there are still concerns about the banking sector. Many are still cautious about the U.S. rescue plan.''
 
Elsewhere, Russia's dollar-demoniated benchmark RTS added 4.2 percent to 1,325.95.
 
Japanese banks were higher, with Nomura Holdings Inc., the country's biggest brokerage, jumping 5.2 percent after announcing it would buy bankrupt firm Lehman Brothers' operations in Europe and the Middle East.
 
Top Japanese bank Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc. advanced 4.2 percent. Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group Inc., Japan's third-largest bank, added 1.18 percent amid media reports that it's considering investing in Goldman Sachs.
 
Leading Australian investment bank Macquarie Group Ltd surged almost 11 percent. China Life, the country's largest insurer, was up 3.1 percent.
 
China's shares have gained, led by oil giant Sinopec and phone company China Unicom, led by oil giant Sinopec and phone company China Unicom following government steps to support the market.
 
Chinese banks, however, bucked the regional trend and declined despite buying by a state fund.
 
In Hong Kong, hundreds of customers descended on branches of Bank of East Asia to demand their deposits back after the bank was hit by unconfirmed rumors questioning its stability.
 
The mid-sized lender insisted that ''malicious'' rumors spread by cell phone text messages in recent days had no basis in fact. Deputy Chief Executive Joseph Pang told reporters that the bank ''is not suffering from financial difficulties'' and that it had enough cash to handle the needs of depositors.
 
Bank of East Asia's stock tumbled almost 7 percent to HK$25.15.
 
Oil companies were higher as crude prices firmed with CNOOC, Sinopec and PetroChina all gaining in Hong Kong trade.
 
Light, sweet crude for November delivery was up $1.91 to $108.52 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange midafternoon in Singapore. The contract fell overnight by $2.76.
 
In currencies, the dollar rose to 106.17 yen Wednesday afternoon in Asia from 105.65 yen late Tuesday. The euro was trading at $1.4663 from $1.4689.

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