Asian News 2015: Japan overview
Japan stock market was one of the few well-performing markets in 2015, as the MSCI Japan Index rose 5%. The Nikkei 225 reached its highest level in 19 years, as investors flocked from the troubled Eurozone under the wing of Japan's stability. Japanese stocks were helped by affirmative central bank policies and ongoing positive data about the country's economy. That was accommodated by the yen weakening by 2% against the dollar, a 12-year low against the American currency. The MSCI Pacific Index moved up 2% as well, a moderate but consistent gain. But at the end of the year equities started retreating downwards.
In Japan, financial sector was the best-performing, as each of the three top-banks increased their share prices almost 20%. Banks have been pressured to eliminate the popular cross-shareholding with business partners. It greatly improved capital efficiency.
Insurers like Dai-ichi Life and Tokio Marine Holdings improved their positions as well. Dai-ichi Life shares went up by 38% after better-than-expected earnings, together with higher premiums for its shareholders. The stock market also helped Nomura Holdings, a leading brokerage firm, whose management fees and commissions increased drastically.
Telecommunication services sector gained 9% in Asia overall. NTT Corp's stock jumped on predictions of better-than-expected earnings. The Asian news of special dividends boosted KDDI shares as well.
Mitsubishi Corporation announced a share buyback for the second year in a row. Elsewhere, Fast Retailing gained 20%, benefiting from strong sales in its clothing retail division.
But not everything was so bright and shiny. For instance, Sharp was the worst-performing asset, dropping 37%. An investigation into another giant, Toshiba, found that more lies were involved in overstating its profits. On the A shares declined 17%.
Asian News 2015: Australia overview
Australian stocks went sharply down 7%. The country’s large banks received bad publicity because of poor overall returns. Banking stocks continued the country’s several years bull run, but rising bond yields and slowing down of economy contributed to problems with its financial sector in 2015. However, Macquarie's stock was a bright light, gaining 9%. The investment bank was not so much affected by the domestic meltdown as the majority of its income comes from international operations. Oil and gas producer Santos also was hit hard due to plunging oil prices. Finally, the Australian dollar strengthened 1% against its American counterpart which attributed to a further slow down in investing in the state's assets.
Asian News 2015: China overview
Hong Kong assets gained 6% overall, largely due to Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing’s humongous 45% return. The city’s bourse operator went on a bullish ride amid record trading volumes and investments from mainland China, whose economy and financial sector is currently struggling without a clear outcome on how to overcome the slowdown. But casino operators weighed on the market with the largest Macau-based gaming companies' stocks declining by double digits.
To sum it up, Asian economic data was generally positive, especially if compared to Europe. The majority of countries saw a rise in GDP helped by strong business spending and exports to the U.S. and China. Consumer spending improved greatly year-on as both retail sales and household spending increased more than expected.