HONG KONG (AFP) - Asian stocks opened higher on Wednesday, extending a Wall Street rally, but fears lingered over China’s debt-hobbled property sector.
In Hong Kong, Chinese real estate company Kaisa Group Holdings suspended share trading just before the opening bell, "pending the release by the Company of an announcement containing inside information", according to a filing with the exchange.
Kaisa, China’s 27th-largest property firm but one of its most indebted, became the latest company to spook investors when it announced on Friday that it had failed in a bid for a debt swap that would buy it crucial time.
China’s real estate industry -- a key growth driver in the world’s second-largest economy -- has cooled in recent months after Beijing tightened home-buying rules and launched a regulatory assault on speculation.
The moves have created headaches for several major developers, notably China Evergrande, the country’s second-largest by volume that is weighed down by billions of dollars in debt.
On Tuesday, Evergrande missed a deadline to repay some of its overseas creditors, raising the prospect of it defaulting as it prepares for a government-backed mega-restructure.
As the trading day kicked off in Hong Kong, the Hang Seng Index inched up 0.06 percent.
In Tokyo, the benchmark Nikkei 225 index was up 1.20 percent.
Japanese shares started with gains "as investors were encouraged by receding concerns over the Omicron strain of the coronavirus and rallies in US high-tech stocks", Mizuho Securities said in a note.
Sydney stocks were up by more than one percent, as were those in Wellington. Seoul, Jakarta and Taipei were marginally up, while Singapore was slightly down.
Wall Street stocks were up for a second straight session Tuesday as investors cheered early indications that the latest Covid-19 variant may be less severe than earlier versions, with the tech-rich Nasdaq enjoying a three-percent jump.
London stocks rose 1.5 percent, while Frankfurt climbed 2.8 percent and Paris had its best day of the year with a 2.9-percent gain.
World stocks and oil had tanked on November 26 when news of the new variant first flashed across traders’ screens.
After a rollercoaster ride since then, investors are now optimistic over the outlook in the run-up to Christmas.
"It’s not that everything is perfect again," said market analyst Patrick O’Hare at Briefing.com.
"It’s just that things are less bad, which is a perfect perception for a market that has seen some significant weakness beneath the index surface and believes things got overdone on those downside moves."
The positive sentiment also spilled over to oil trading, where the main US contract, WTI, briefly gained 5 percent.