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Sydney, Feb 5, 2009 AEST (ABN Newswire) - Asia's major markets including Tokyo, Shanghai and Hong Kong closed higher on Wednesday after the US stocks rose on the positive economy data and progress on government's stimulus plan. Tokyo stocks opened lower Thursday as investor sentiment was dampened by bleak U.S. corporate earnings.

Asia Economy Watch

Chinese government has released the purchasing-managers index which showed that manufacturing activity in China contracted again in January, though at a slower pace than the month before, offering hopes of the beginnings of a recovery.
The official car sales data of January in China, which will come out next week, are expected to decline 8 per cent to 790,000 units.

The Ministry of Strategy and Finance of Korea said on Thursday that recent key economic data on production, domestic consumption and exports suggest the South Korean economy is facing a higher risk of a downturn. Both exports and imports will likely continue to decline in February.

Company News

Ping An Insurance (Group) Co. of China Ltd. (SHA:601318)(HKG:2318) said it plans to build a skyscraper in Shenzhen, which could become China's tallest building. Analysts say Ping An still has enough cash to fund the building of its new headquarters with 56.7 billion yuan cash on hand as of Sept. 30.

Panasonic Corp.(TYO:6752)(NYSE:PC) forecasts a huge loss for the current fiscal year and said it plans to lay off 15,000 workers and close 27 manufacturing sites worldwide to combat a sharp slowdown in demand and to ease the burden of a strong yen.

It is reportedly that Citic Pacific (HKG:0267) has approached the China's US$200 billion sovereign wealth fund to take a 50 per cent stake in Citic Capital Holdings after the massive losses in foreign-currency bets last year.

The Hong Kong listed fashion retailer Esprit Holdings Ltd. (HKG:0330) reported a 13% decline in first-half net profit, its first earnings decline since 1998, as the global economic downturn squeezed its operating profit margin.

NHN Corp. (KSE:035420), the operator of South Korea's top Internet portal Naver, said Thursday its fourth-quarter earnings rose 19.8 per cent from a year ago on increased revenue from online ads and games.

Asustek Computer Inc. (TPE:2357) said it will introduce co-branded smartphones with Garmin Ltd. (NASDAQ:GRMN) in a strategic alliance with the U.S.-based maker of portable navigation devices.

The Taiwan government is considering buying a stake in Japan's Elpida Memory Inc. (TYO:6665) as a way to help consolidate Taiwan's memory-chip sector, a person familiar with the matter said Thursday.


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

Related Companies

Ping An Insurance (Grp) Co of China Ltd       
Panasonic Corporation       
NHN Corporation       
Garmin Ltd.       
Esprit Holdings Limited       
Elpida Memory, Inc       
Citic Pacific        
ASUSTEK Computer Inc.       

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