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Sydney, Jan 23, 2009 AEST (ABN Newswire) - Tokyo stocks opened sharply lower Friday with investor sentiment hurt by Sony Corp.'s forecast of an annual operating loss as well as by a fall in U.S. shares overnight due to disappointing corporate earnings there. Yesterday the Aisan markets gained on the good lead from Wall Street. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index firmed 0.6% to 12657.99. The Shanghai Composite Index added 1%. South Korea's Kospi Composite rose 1.1% to 1116.23.

Asia Economy Watch

Australia- based brokerage firm Macquarie Securities has forecast that India's growth for the current year ending March 2009 will slow to 6.5% and slip further to 5.5% in FY'10.

China's National Bureau of Statistics announced yesterday that China had grown just 6.8% in the fourth quarter of 2008 compared with the same period in 2007. That puts the official annual growth rate at 9%, the first time to hit single digits since 2002.

Japan's exports plummeted 35percent year on year in December, the overweight yen amplifying damage from collapsing demand in its main overseas markets. The Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry is considering measures to protect sensitive information during criminal trials in an effort to allay fears among companies reluctant to take action out of concern their secrets will be exposed in the courtroom.

Korea's economy shrank by a shocking 5.6 percent in the fourth quarter from a quarter earlier, heightening fears that the nation may be in more dire economic straits than many thought.

Company News

Sony(NYSE:SNE)(TYO:6758) has forecast a much bigger than expected operating loss of US$2.9 billion, the first in 14 years, as the global economic crisis saps demand for cameras, televisions and other goods.

Daiichi Sankyo Co (TYO:4568), Japan's third-largest drugmaker, said it plans to apply by March 2010 for marketing approval in Japan of an influenza drug candidate, and seek approval in Taiwan, Hong Kong and South Korea soon afterwards.

Dongfeng Motor Corp, the parent of Dongfeng Motor Group(HKG:0489), has drastically lowered its sales growth target for 2009 to 6 percent compared with the achieved growth rate of 16 percent in 2008. Dongfeng Motor Group is expecting to sell 1.4 million vehicles in 2009.

China Petroleum & Chemical Corp (Sinopec)(SHA:600028), Aluminum Corp of China(Chalco) (SHA:601600)and China Railway Group(SHA:601390) are warning of a more than 50 per cent drop in their net profits for last year, when they release detailed earnings later.

South Korea's LG Electronics(SEO:066570) posted a record quarterly net loss as flat-screen TV and mobile phone sales sank. LG said sales and profits will slide further as demand shrivels and competition intensifies. It reported a 671.3 billion won net loss for October-December 2008.

The Indian government may take up the civil aviation ministry's proposal to allow foreign airlines to pick up up to 25% stake in Indian domestic airlines. The move would pave the way for foreign airlines such as Singapore Airlines(SIN:C6L), British Airways(LON:BAY) and Lufthansa(FRA:LHA) to buy equities in carriers like Kingfisher(BOM:532747), SpiceJet(BOM:500285) and IndiGo.


Michelle Liang
Asia Business News Asia Bureau
Tel: +61-2-9247-4344

Related Companies

SpiceJet Limited       
Sony Corporation       
Singapore Airlines Ltd.       
LG Electronics Inc.       
Kingfisher Airlines Ltd       
Dongfeng Motor Group Co. Ltd       
Deutsche Lufthansa AG       
Daiichi-Sankyo Company Limited        
China Railway Group Limited       
China Petroleum & Chemical Corporation (SINOPEC)       
British Airways plc       
Aluminum Corporation of China Limited(CHALCO)        

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