Asia shares up after Wall Street highs

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HONG KONG: Asian markets rose on Monday, buoyed by record closes on Wall Street, as investors await US employment figures this week and possible European easing measures.

The dollar gained in Asia while weak Japanese data weighed on the yen. The euro continued to face pressure before this week’s European Central Bank board meeting, which many expect will see an easing of monetary policy.

Tokyo closed up 2.07 percent, or 303.54 points, to finish at a two-month high of 14,935.92, while Seoul climbed 0.35 percent, or 7.04 points, to 2,002.00.

Sydney rose 0.47 percent, or 25.95 points, to 5,518.5.


Financial markets in Hong Kong, China, Taiwan and New Zealand were closed for public holidays.

The jump in Tokyo came after record finishes on Wall Street Friday following a flurry of merger and acquisition activity, and China’s release of positive manufacturing data over the weekend.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average advanced 0.67 percent, or 110.90 points, over the week to 16,717.17 Friday, setting a fresh record.

The broad-based S&P 500 tacked on 23.04 (1.21 percent) over the week to 1,923.57, also a new record, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index rose 56.81 (1.36 percent) to 4,242.62.

Canadian pharmaceutical firm Valeant Pharmaceuticals International raised its bid on Wednesday for Botox-maker Allergan and then raised it again on Friday to about $53.5 billion.

The food industry was also in focus as US meat processing giant Tyson Foods and Brazilian heavyweight JBS both launched unsolicited takeover campaigns for Hillshire Brands.

Positive China data
There was some regional cheer after figures released by China on Sunday showed manufacturing activity strengthening to a five-month high in May.

The official purchasing managers index reached 50.8 in May, the National Bureau of Statistics said, up from 50.4 in March.

The index tracks manufacturing activity and is a closely watched indicator of the health of the economy. A reading above 50 indicates growth.

With few other catalysts driving action, investors in Asia are awaiting data including US jobs figures this week for trading clues, as well as the European Central Bank meeting on Thursday.

US employment data, including initial jobless claims, non-farm payrolls data and the latest unemployment rate will be released Thursday and Friday.

“Thursday’s ECB meeting and Friday’s US payrolls report dominate the international skyline,” National Australia Bank said.

Financial markets are betting on an interest rate cut from the ECB as low inflation, the strong euro and anaemic credit finally spur it into action.

In foreign exchange trading, the greenback fetched 102.02 yen compared with 101.75 yen in New York Friday afternoon.

The euro rose to 139.01 yen from 138.75 yen, but weakened to $1.3626 against $1.3630 in US trade.

On Friday weaker Japanese household spending and factory output highlighted the negative impact of last month’s sales tax rise, raising the possibility of further action by the Bank of Japan to counter any downturn.

Oil prices rose. The US benchmark, West Texas Intermediate for delivery in July, gained 57 cents to $103.28 a barrel while Brent North Sea crude for July was up 41 cents to $109.82 a barrel in afternoon trade.

Gold fetched $1,244.63 an ounce at 8 a.m. local time compared to $1,250.50 on Friday.

AFP

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