Asian markets rise on commodities gains

BEIJING: Asian markets mostly rose Tuesday on stronger commodity prices and overnight Wall Street gains driven by signs the U.S. recession might be ending.

Investors were encouraged after the Standard & Poor's 500 index — a key U.S. market measure — broke through the 1,000-point level for the first time since November. A trade group said American manufacturing might improve next month for the first time since early 2008.

Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 index was up 44.53, or 0.4 percent, at 10,396.92, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng index added 6.51 points, or less than 0.1 percent, to 20,813.77 in back and forth trade. South Korea's Kospi rose 0.1 percent to 1,566.57.

"Investors are in an even more upbeat mood because of the very strong performance on Wall Street," said Dariusz Kowalczyk, chief investment strategist for SJS Markets in Hong Kong.

China's Shanghai Composite Index bucked the regional trend, falling 23.21, or 0.7 percent, to 3,439.38, led by banks after regulators announced a review of capital adequacy as they try to cool a credit boom. China's biggest lender, Industrial & Commercial Bank of China Ltd, lost 2 percent while Bank of China Ltd. was down 1.9 percent.

"The regulator's documents would further squeeze the profits of banks. But this is just a short-term factor as a reason for investors to take profits," said Tang Yonggang, an analyst for Hongyuan Securities in Beijing.

Elsewhere, Australia's benchmark was up 1.3 percent while Singapore's market measure dropped 0.2 percent and Taiwan's Taiex fell 1 percent.

BHP Billiton Ltd., the world's biggest miner, was up 3.3 percent in Sydney after prices for copper, tin, aluminum and other metals gained Monday. Rival Rio Tinto Ltd. was up 5.6 percent.

"Our region is very sensitive to developments in commodities prices and commodities gained sharply," Kowalczyk said.

Wall Street's big indexes all rose more than 1 percent on Monday, including the Dow Jones industrial average, which climbed 115 points. Better corporate earnings pushed the Dow Jones average up 725 points in July to its best month in nearly seven years.

The Institute for Supply Management, a trade group of purchasing executives, said U.S. manufacturing should increase next month for the first time since January 2008 as industrial companies restock shelves.

The Commerce Department said U.S. construction spending rose rather than fell in June as analysts had expected. The reports and rising commodity prices lifted energy and material stocks.

Ford Motor Co. said its sales rose 1.6 percent in July, its first monthly gain in nearly two years.

Oil prices stayed above $70 in Asia on expectations a global recovery will boost demand for crude. Benchmark crude for September delivery fell 37 cents to $71.21 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. On Monday, the contract rose 67 cents to $70.12.

In currency markets, the dollar rose to 95.31 yen from 95.22. The euro fell to $1.4384 from $1.4410 late Monday in New York.