Asian Shares Buoyed By US Earnings 01/24 05:58

Asian Shares Buoyed By US Earnings     01/24 05:58

   Asian stocks were mostly higher on Thursday as positive U.S. earnings 
reports reassured investors that the world's largest economy was on track.

   SINGAPORE (AP) -- Asian stocks were mostly higher on Thursday as positive 
U.S. earnings reports reassured investors that the world's largest economy was 
on track. Comments by a top Chinese official buoyed trading too, but poor 
Japanese data for the second straight day weighed on the Nikkei 225 index.

   KEEPING SCORE: The Shanghai Composite index gained 0.4 percent to 2,592.40 
and South Korea's Kospi rose 0.8 percent to 2,145.03. Hong Kong's Hang Seng 
picked up 0.3 percent to 27,080.39. Australia's S&P ASX 200 added 0.4 percent 
to 5,865.70. Japan's Nikkei 225 index declined 0.1 percent to 20,574.63. Shares 
rose in Taiwan, Thailand and Singapore but fell in Malaysia.

   WALL STREET: Strong quarterly earnings by big companies like IBM, Proctor & 
Gamble and United Technologies helped most U.S. indexes finish Wednesday with 
slight gains. IBM stocks surged 8.5 percent to $132.89 after its fourth-quarter 
results exceeded expectations. But traders were worried about reports that the 
U.S. had turned down an offer by Chinese trade officials to meet in Washington 
this week, citing the lack of progress on issues like intellectual property 
rights. White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow denied it. The S&P 500 index 
added 0.2 percent to 2,638.70. The Dow Jones Industrial Average advanced 0.7 
percent to 24,575.62 and the Nasdaq composite gained 0.1 percent to 7,025.77. 
The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks dipped 0.2 percent to 1,454.26.

   JAPAN PMI: On Thursday, a private survey suggested that Japanese 
manufacturing had slowed in January. The Markit/JMMA flash purchasing managers' 
index fell to 50.0 from December's 52.6. Readings above 50 indicate expansion 
on the index's 100-point scale. The survey found that key output and new orders 
contracted while exports slumped further. Just a day ago, Japan released 
weaker-than-expected trade data for December, with exports registering its 
largest drop in two years, mostly due slowing demand in China.

   CHINA TALK: Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan took aim at the U.S. in 
pointed comments at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Wang said 
that "Shifting blame for one's own problems onto others will not resolve the 
problems," alluding to a trade war with Washington that has both sides imposing 
heavy taxes on each other's imports. Wang said China still has "enormous market 
potential" despite its recent worse-than-anticipated slowdown.

   ANALYST'S TAKE: "Major Asia-Pacific indices are fluctuating around the 
session breakeven point, reflecting the ongoing global debate about growth 
prospects," Michael McCarthy, Chief Market Strategist at CMC Markets in Sydney, 
said in an interview.

   ENERGY: U.S. crude oil dropped 26 cents to $52.36 per barrel in electronic 
trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract shed 39 cents to 
$52.62 per barrel on Wednesday. Brent crude, used to price international oils, 
shed 32 cents to $60.82 per barrel. It lost 36 cents to $61.14 in London.

   CURRENCIES: The dollar strengthened to 109.68 yen from 109.61 yen late 
Wednesday. The euro rose to $1.1383 from $1.1381.


(BE)

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