Asia Markets: Hong Kong stocks lead Asian markets higher

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Hong Kong stocks opened solidly higher Wednesday, leading a mostly up day across Asian markets. Japan’s Nikkei stock index was the region’s laggard.

In Hong Kong the market was rebounding from Monday’s sharp selling following a Tuesday holiday. The Hang Seng Index HSI, +1.63%  rose 0.5%, while the China Enterprises Index is up 0.7%. The uptick comes as the Hong Kong dollar has weakened some following its Friday’s surge, the biggest in nearly 15 years. Index heavyweight Tencent TCEHY, +0.92%   is up about 1% while oil major CNOOC has jumped 3.5% on this week’s gains in crude prices. Some Chinese developers, though, are down some 2% more in initial trading following Monday’s slump.

Gains in the prelisting market pointed to a good kickoff for Haidilao, the Chinese hot-pot chain which starts trading Wednesday following its $963 million IPO. Shares rose some 9% on 2 prelisting trading platforms from the HK$17.80 offer price.

The Nikkei NIK, +0.05%   was under pressure from many stocks going ex-dividend, meaning looming payouts are subtracted from companies’ equities prices. The benchmark is off 0.2% at 23,907. Noted decliners include Nissan Motor at 3.5% and Daito Trust Construction and Japan Post at about 2.5% on an unadjusted basis.

New Zealand business confidence jumped in September to its highest levels since May, helping ease one of the biggest concerns hanging over the economy. Headline business confidence bounced 12 points to -38 in September from August. Employment intentions and profit expectations also lifted, but investment intentions dropped further. It is another strong data set that challenges the dovish outlook of the RBNZ. An update from the central bank is due on Thursday. Stocks NZ50GR, -0.16%   in the country were down 0.2% early Wednesday.

Investment bank Nomura said Wednesday the Chinese government “may eventually be pushed to reduce the tax burden on Chinese corporates to instill confidence in the economy.” It believes that value-added-tax-cuts “are at the top of the policy to-do list,” and maps out scenarios for reductions of 1.0 trillion to 1.4 trillion yuan ($145 billion to $205 billion). That would widen the fiscal deficit by some 1.5% of GDP. The Shanghai Composite Index SHCOMP, +1.27%  rose more than 0.3% in morning trading.

Singapore’s stock benchmark again outperforms early in Asia as the market is at September’s best level and looking for its first 6-day winning streak in almost a year. The Straits Times Index STI, +0.60% is up 0.4% at, 3,254, with commodities names again strong. Trader Noble jumped 5.3% while Golden Agri gained 2.1% and Wilmar rose 1.6%.

This story was compiled from Dow Jones Newswires reports.

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