HONG KONG: Most Asia markets climbed on Monday with Hong Kong advancing for an eighth straight session and Shanghai rallying after more disappointing Chinese data fuelled hopes for fresh easing measures.
Wall Street provided another strong lead Friday, boosted by a string of merger announcements last week and a huge asset sale by General Electric (GE).
Shanghai surged 2.17 percent, or 87.41 points, to 4,121.71 while Hong Kong climbed 2.73
percent, or 743.95 points, to 28,016.34 on the second highest turnover ever.
Seoul gained 0.53 percent, or 11.16 points, to end at 2,098.92.
Tokyo ended marginally lower, dipping 2.17 points to 19,905.46, while Sydney eased 0.14 percent, or 8.1 points, to close at 5,960.3.
In China the customs administration said imports and exports sank in March, the latest figures to show the world’s number two economy continues to struggle. However, they will also reinforce investors’ expectations that authorities will unveil a new round of growth-fuelling policies.
Those expectations have powered a rally in Shanghai shares to seven-year highs over the past 12 months, and mainlanders are heading to Hong Kong for what they consider cheap equities. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index (HSI) has now climbed more than 13 percent over the past eight sessions.
Turnover on the HSI hit two successive records last week as traders north of the border made the most of a link-up between the index and Shanghai’s exchange.
While the stock connect programme initially aroused little interest, the decision by mainland authorities last month to expand the number of fund-management firms allowed to buy in Hong Kong has seen activity surge.
“What we saw last week is likely to continue,” Nader Naeimi, Sydney-based head of dynamic asset allocation at AMP Capital Investors, told Bloomberg Television.
Dollar picks up
Attention will now turn to the release Wednesday of Chinese economic growth figures for the first quarter.
In New York Friday the Dow got a bump from GE’s announcement that it will sell $26.5 billion in real estate assets as part of a plan to pare off most of its GE Capital unit over the next 24 months. That came at the end of a week that also saw major mergers including Royal Dutch Shell and FedEx.
The Dow climbed 0.55 percent, the S&P 500 rose 0.52 percent and the Nasdaq gained 0.43 percent.
On currency markets the dollar was at 120.57 yen compared with 120.30 yen in New York.
The euro bought $1.0590 and 127.67 yen against $1.0599 and 127.50 yen.