Asian stocks mostly higher after painful week

November 22, 2014 – Asian markets mostly rose on bargain-buying at the end of a disappointing week that saw Japan plunge into recession and a trumpeted Hong Kong Shanghai exchange link-up fall flat.

The yen made some inroads against the dollar and euro after hitting multi-year lows, but with eyes on the general election expected next month in Japan, analysts expect it to resume its downtrend.

Tokyo reversed early losses to end 0.33 percent higher, adding 56.65 points to 17,357.51, while Seoul rose 0.35 percent, or 6.80 points, to 1,964.84. Hong Kong ended a four-day losing streak to rise 0.37 percent, or 87.48 points, to 23,437.12 and Shanghai climbed 1.39 percent, or 34.13 points, to 2,486.79. But Sydney fell 0.22 percent, or 11.9 points, to close at 5,304.3.

US shares provided another record-breaking lead on Thursday on the back of more positive economic indicators. A regional manufacturing index from the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia surged unexpectedly, while the Conference Board’s Leading Economic Index, an amalgamation of several key economic indicators, also improved. Also, US existing-home sales gained in October for the second straight month.

The figures are the latest showing the US is well on a strong recovery track, despite weaknesses in the Chinese, Japanese and eurozone economies. The Dow climbed 0.19 percent and the S&P 500 gained 0.20 percent – both hitting new peaks – while the Nasdaq added 0.56 percent.

Regional investors started the week on the back foot with the release of data showing Japan had slipped back into recession after a sales tax hike in April put the clamps on consumer spending. The news led Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to put off another hike planned for next year and call a snap election for December.

The news also fuelled speculation the Bank of Japan will unveil fresh monetary easing measures – just weeks after it ramped up its already vast bond-buying scheme on October 31 – sending the yen diving.