Asia: Hong Kong defies sell-off

15 May 2012

LONDON (ShareCast) - Gains in Hong Kong proved to be the exception on Tuesday as other Asian markets fell on increasing nerves about Greece's political and financial outlook. The Hang Seng index closed up 159 points at 19,894 in Hong Kong while the benchmark Nikkei 225 (Osaka: ^N225 - news) closed down 73 points at 8,900. Banks did well with shares of heavyweight HSBC (LSE: HSBA.L - news) rising 1.1%, Bank of China added 0.7%, Hang Seng Bank increased 0.79% while BOC Hong Kong (HKSE: 2388.HK - news) rose 1.5% after China cut banks' reserve requirements in a bid to sustain growth. PetroChina and Tencent were strong gainer, up 2.94% and 2.13% respectively. China Mobile (HKSE: 0941.HK - news) piled on 1.5%. Risk appetite evaporated during Tuesday's session in Tokyo as uncertainty in Europe (Chicago Options: ^REURUSD - news) prompted a flight to safe haven assets. Japanese exporters came under particular pressure on unease about political turmoil in Greece. The country's leaders are to meet again today to try and form a coalition government. However fresh elections look increasingly likely as talk of Greece exiting the Eurozone increases. Shares in carmakers Toyota, Nissan, Mazda and Honda all motored over 2% lower. In Tokyo financials were mostly lower after Moody's Investor Service downgraded 26 Italian banks late Monday. Aozora Bank (Munich: A0LCLC - news) fell nearly 3% after reporting annual results in the previous session. Daiwa Securities and Nomura both surrendered 2%. CJ

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