New York: 20:42 || London: 23:42 || Mumbai: 05:12 || Singapore: 07:42

Reports Asia

Asian stock market, economy and companies update (March 26, 2014)

March 26, 2014, Wednesday, 05:41 GMT | 02:41 EST | 11:11 IST | 13:41 SGT
Contributed by Trade The News

- Sovereign wealth fund (CIC) Chairman Li expressed concern that it is becoming more difficult to find investible long-term projects, also noting that while QE may weigh on emerging markets in the short term, those challenges would likely be temporary. Li also said Q1 GDP in China thus far appears to be unsatisfactory, but Q2 will likely see "very real growth."
- China's Ag Bank is up over 3% after reporting FY13 results overnight. Profits were in line, Rev above expectations, and NPL ratio fell 11bps to 1.22%.

- Japan PM Abe's economic advisor Honda echoed sentiment from adviser Hamada earlier this week, pushing the BOJ into further policy easing with the announcement as early as mid-May if the upcoming consumption tax increase derails the fragile progress of Abenomics. Separately, a press report late in the day suggesting the govt is looking to bring forward public works spending to offset the impact of Apr 1st sales tax hike, with plans to spend minimum of ¥10T of public works budget by end of September.

- AUD/USD hit fresh 4-month highs above $0.9180 after a fairly neutral set of remarks from RBA Gov Stevens. With the markets seemingly accustomed to consistent jawboning of the currency by the central bank, the absence of any meaningful verbal intervention further signifies the RBA is firmly entrenched at 2.50% OCR. Moreover, in addition to reiterated expectations of recovering growth and the handover from mining to consumption sector of the economy being underway, Stevens continued to allude to the central bank's focus on the rising property market, which has given rise to speculation the RBA may actually surprise with a rate hike as early as late-2014. Earlier in the day, the semiannual RBA Financial Stability Review als announced the bank is monitoring development for speculative and risky practices in the mortgage sector.

US tech:
- In a busy extended session for the US tech sector, Facebook announced another large acquisition, paying $2B in cash ($400M) and stock (23.1M shrs) for virtual reality gaming technology company Oculus. The company is seen as the "leader in immersive virtual reality technology and has already built strong interest among developers, having received more than 75,000 orders for development kits for the company's virtual reality headset, the Oculus Rift." In a subsequent conference call, Facebook CEO Zuckerberg explained that he is looking ahead of Mobile to the next major computing platform interface, noting Oculus can be used as more than just platform for gaming, potentially becoming the "most social platform ever" through the "immersive" world of virtual reality. Asked about the brisk pace of M&A announcements, Zuckerberg said the recent acquisitions have been "incredibly rare" opportunities, and that investors should not expect us to make multi-billion dollar acquisitions frequently.
- Separately, King Digital Entertainment - the designer of the highly addictive Candy Crush mobile videogame - announced its widely-anticipated IPO pricing of 22.2M shares at $22.50/shr ($21-24 projected range). Trading in KING will start Wednesday morning.

- Fed's Plosser (hawk, FOMC voter) endorsed tighter policy in the US, noting the economy has recovered sufficiently for interest rates to start rising. Plosser also noted economic models suggest that Fed Funds Rate should be above zero, and calling on the central bank to do more to align public expectations with its plans.

***Fixed Income/Commodities/Currencies***
- (JP) BOJ offers to buy ¥250B in 1-3 year JGB, ¥250B in 3-5 year JGB, ¥400B in 5-10 year JGB, and ¥500B in CP
- (AU) Australia MoF (AOFM) sells A$700M in 3.25% Bonds due 2025; Avg yield 4.2036%; bid-to-cover 2.73x
- (US) API PETROLEUM INVENTORIES: CRUDE: +6.3M (5th straight build and largest build since Nov 26th) v +3Me, GASOLINE: -2.84M v -1Me, DISTILLATE: +270K v -1.5Me

US markets:
- FIVE: Reports Q4 $0.47 adj v $0.45e, R$212M v $209Me; +15.7% afterhours
- SCS: Reports Q4 $0.18 (ex items) v $0.17e, R$779M v $777Me; +6.3% afterhours
- SFM: Guides Q1 Rev $720M v $691Me, SSS +12.5%, GM 30.5-31.0% v 30.3% y/y; +4.3% afterhours
- PVH: Reports Q4 $1.43 v $1.44e, R$2.05B v $2.07Be; +1.0% afterhours
- FB: To acquire Oculus VR (private) for total approx $2B (incl $400M cash, 23.1M shrs); CEO Zuckerberg: Want to focus on building the next major computing platform that follows Mobile; Oculus already received orders for 75K development kits - conf call; -0.8% afterhours
- PNRA: Reaffirms Q1 $1.49-1.55 v $1.52e, as given on 2/18; new intiatives may depress margins and earning growth in next two years; -1.7% afterhours
- IGT: Guides FY14 lower $1.00-1.10 v $1.18e ($1.28-1.38 prior); will cut 7% of workforce in realignment; -7.4% afterhours
- BODY: Reports Q4 -$0.74 (adj) v -$0.24e, R$66.2M v $75.0Me; taken several actions to increase liquidity; -23.5% afterhours

Notable movers by sector:
- Consumer Discretionary: Fonterra FCG.NZ +1.0% (H1 results); Qingdao Haier 600690.CN +1.1% (FY13 results)
- Consumer staples: Tsingtao Brewery 168.HK +0.6% (FY13 results)
- Financials: China Life Insurance 2628.HK +1.0% (FY13 results); Agricultural Bank of China 1288.HK +3.1% (FY13 results)
- Materials: Fortescue Metals Group FMG.AU +3.4% (CEO comments)
- Industrials: China Communications Construction 1800.HK -1.3% (FY13 results); Hyundai Motor 005380.KR +3.4% (investment in China); Nufarm Ltd NUF.AU -2.2% (H1 results)
- Technology: AU Optronics Corp 2409.TW +3.4% (to invest in PV systems, solar power stations); Haier Electronics Group 1169.HK -1.0% (FY13 results)
- Healthcare: Sigma Pharmaceuticals SIP.AU +4.5% (acquires assets)

***Economic Data***
- (KR) SOUTH KOREA Q4 FINAL GDP Q/Q: 0.9% V 0.9% PRELIM; Y/Y: 3.7% V 3.4% PRELIM; 2013 GDP 3.0% vs 2.3% in 2012

Market Snapshot (as of 03:30 GMT):
- Nikkei225 +0.2%, S&P/ASX +0.9%, Kospi +1.1%, Shanghai Composite -0.1%, Hang Seng +1.1%, Jun S&P500 +0.1% at 1,861, Jun gold +0.1% at $1,313, May crude oil +0.2% at $99.34/brl