Most Asian stock markets rose Tuesday as oil prices retreated, with a weakened yen and strong retail sales lifting Japanese stocks despite a fall in technology shares after Elpida Memory’s bankruptcy filing. According to Wall Street Journal, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index added 1.7% to 21568.73, Japan’s Nikkei Stock Average gained 0.9% to 9722.52, China’s Shanghai Composite advanced 0.2% to 2451.86 and South Korea’s Kospi rose 0.6% to 2003.69. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 index declined 0.1% to 4262.7 as poor earnings reports pressured shares of James Hardie Industries SE and Boral Ltd.
“The oil price has pulled back slightly, which is positive. If the oil price is too high, it’s detrimental to parts of the economy and the recovery,” said Peter Lai, director at DBS Vickers in Hong Kong. “But investors are waiting for catalysts to go higher and looking for more economic indicators from China.”
Nissan Motor dropped 1.1% after the car maker said it would recall 79,275 vehicles over problems with their fuel sensors. But other Tokyo shares picked up the slack, with retail stocks leading the market higher in the afternoon session after news of a 1.9% year-on-year rise for January retail sales. Fast Retailing added 2.1%, Seven & I Holdings gained 1.1% and Takashimaya rose 1.7%.
The yen’s decline against the dollar and the euro spurred many exporters, lifting Fanuc Corp. 2%, Nikon 1.9% and Sony 0.7%.
Those gains helped offset weakness in technology stocks, weighed down by chip maker Elpida’s bankruptcy filing late Monday. Elpida plummeted 24%, ending limit down. Renesas Electronics fell 3.3% and Advantest lost 1.5%.
Yet, Elpida rivals in the dynamic random-access memory chip business gained on hopes investments in production capacity will fall, boosting prices. In Seoul, Hynix Semiconductor climbed 6.8%, while Samsung Electronics gained 1.2%.
Samsung, Hynix and Elpida are the world’s three largest DRAM-chip producers.
Several airline stocks in the region rose as crude-oil prices declined. Korean Air Lines gained 3.2% in Seoul, Cathay Pacific Airways rose 5.7% in Hong Kong, Qantas Airways added 1.8% in Sydney and All Nippon Airways rose 0.4% in Tokyo.
Among regional stocks that moved on the back of their earnings reports, Hang Seng Bank rose 5.1% in Hong Kong after posting a 12% gain in 2011 profit.
In Sydney, disappointing results from construction-materials provider James Hardie and Boral sent their shares 4.2% and 2.7% lower, respectively.
Among other movers in Australia, Goodman Fielder shot up 33% after Singapore-listed Wilmar International said it had bought a 10% stake in the grocery manufacturer.
Billabong International lost 2.3% after the maker and retailer of surf- and snow-wear rejected a sweetened bid from U.S. private-equity firm TPG Capital.
Property shares sagged on mainland Chinese bourses, meanwhile, coinciding with Credit Suisse research citing cuts in prices and pressure on profits. Among the major names, China Vanke fell 0.7% in Shenzhen, while Gemdale dropped 0.7% in Shanghai.