Weekly Overview: Mar 19 to Mar. 24, 2007

US market led global markets to have a bullish week in general .....

YT Kum, CFA 26.03.2007
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US market led global markets to have a bullish week in general.

"Future policy adjustment will depend on the evolution of the outlook for both inflation and economic growth."Fed said after it had decided to hold the key interest rate unchanged at 5.25%, as expected. As Fed didn't mention a word on "additional firming"for the inflationary risk, the market interprets this decision as a hint of a near-term rate cut. The market was hence cheered up. On the positive front, transportation and commodity shares are sparked partly due to the housing report, which said that housing starts in February rebounded after an unexpected slump in January. On the negative side, Motorola issued profit warning for the 1Q07 resul

t. For the week, Dow Jones Industrial Index closed at 12,481.0, up 3.06%; Nasdaq Composite closed at 2,448.9, up 3.21%; S&P 500 closed at 1,436.1, up 3.54%.

Hives of eye-catching M&A deals are coming. Barclays of Britain and ABN AMRO of Netherlands engaged in a merger talk last week, and it would probably form the fifth largest bank globally. Stock prices of Barclays and ABN jumped up 2.6% and 2.4% respectively last week. The market anticipated this takeover would trigger a new round of consolidation in the industry, helping financials to go under spotlight. Utility sector dyed with the same M&A concept. Enel S.p.A, an Italian utility company, and Acciona SA, a Spanish conglomerate, planned to make a joint bid for Endesa SA, a Spanish power company, which is being in an acquisition talk with E. On AG, a large German power enterprise. Besides M&A deals, crude oil price rose back to US$62 per barrel, fuelling some oil giants, like BP, to advance. For the week, London FTSE 100 advanced 3.41% to 6,339.4; Frankfurt Xetra DAX closed at 6,889.1, up 4.85%; Paris CAC 40 advanced by 4.69% to 5,634.8.

Japan's nationwide land prices rose 0.4% yoy in 2006, which is the first time in 16 years, boosting property-related stocks, like Mitsui Fudosan, to go strong. Besides, Bank of Japan held the key interest rate unchanged at 0.5%, halting the current strong-run of Yen and lifted exporters. For the week, NIKKEI 225 gained 4.40% to 17,480.6.

Another interest rise in China did not cool down the market sentiment. Shanghai A-Share Index reached 3,230.3 last week, up 4.91%, rewriting the historical high. As for Hong Kong, lots of heavyweight companies announced their full year results. PetroChina reported a RMB142.2bn net profit in 2006, representing a 6.6% yoy jump, which is the lower-end of the market consensus. Other blue chips' results, including Cheung Kong, Hutchison, HK & China Gas and Hendersen Land, met market's expectation. For the week, Hang Seng Index went up by 3.90% to 19,692.6 and H-shares index added 375 points to 9,487.51.

Taiwan TSEC weighted index added 1.81% to 7,859.3, lagging behind its Asian peers. Acer engaged in an acquisition talk with Gateway, the third largest PC company in US, pushing heavyweight Taiwan Tech stocks up. Asus and Gigabyte, two large motherboard manufacturers in Taiwan, gave up their joint-venture plan, leading to a slump. Prime Minister of Malaysia decided to scrap the capital-gains tax on property sales. This long-awaiting tax reform helped the Kuala Lumpur Composite Index to increase by 4.52%. Singapore Straits Times Index rose 4.28% to 3,205.8.

For commodities, crude oil future rebounded strongly for 9.05% to US$62.3 per barrel. Gold future rose slightly by 0.52% to US$657.3 per ounce. As for the currencies, the dollar was quoted at 118.11 Yen and the euro was $1.3283. British pound was quoted at $1.9616 and Aussie was $0.8050.

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YT Kum, CFA  YT Kum is a consultant for Morningstar, contributing to manager selection and asset allocation activities in Asia, and is responsible for providing investment thought leadership on topics relevent to investors in Asia.  

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