Asia stocks higher as optimism returns

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HONG KONG: Tokyo led a recovery in Asian stock markets on Tuesday, soaring more than 3 percent as dealers built on a strong lead from Wall Street and disappointment over failed oil talks gave way to hope for the global economy.

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While Asia ended lower Monday following the collapse of the weekend meeting to cap crude production, initial sharp losses in Europe and New York turned to gains as dealers were lifted by positive comments on the US outlook and recent upbeat data out of China.

News of a huge strike in key producer Kuwait also provided support to the black gold, which turned positive in Asian afternoon trade and a risk-on mood lifted higher-yielding currencies.

Federal Reserve Bank of Boston President Eric Rosengren said Monday the world’s number one economy was much healthier than financial markets thought and saw growth picking up through this year.

“While there have been significant headwinds from abroad, and market turbulence related to those headwinds, I view the US economy as fundamentally sound and likely to perform better than the domestic economies of most trading partners,” he said.

Also, New York Fed President William Dudley said he foresaw inflation picking up as the economy improves.

The comments soothed concerns and helped fuel buying after early shocks caused by the Doha oil failure.

“Markets reversed much of the post Doha price action in energy and currencies,” analysts at Australia & New Zealand Banking Group, including Sydney-based Jo Masters, wrote in a report.

“Sentiment was also supported by positive comments on the US and European outlook by the Fed’s Dudley and improved US corporate earnings,” they said, according to Bloomberg News.

Gains in New York and Europe were followed by similar gains in Asia. Tokyo ended 3.7 percent higher.

Crude rallies
The Nikkei had lost more than three percent Monday as a dive in oil prices compounded the impact of two earthquakes last week that has led to some of the country’s biggest firms including Toyota shutting down factories.

Hong Kong added 0.9 percent in the afternoon. Shanghai closed up 0.3 percent, Sydney one percent and Seoul finished 0.1 percent up.

World markets were already enjoying buying last week following a series of upbeat readings from China—including on trade, investment and factory activity—suggested a long-running growth slowdown in the country may be bottoming out.

A more confident mood provided support to higher-yielding, or riskier, currencies, pushing the Australian dollar 1.2 percent higher against its US counterpart and the South Korean won 1.3 percent up. The Indonesian rupiah added 0.4 percent and Canadian dollar 1.2 percent.

The greenback also edged up against the yen—which is the go-to unit in times of trouble. It bought 109.09 yen in Tokyo Tuesday, well up from the levels below 108 yen seen early Monday.

On oil markets Brent added 0.8 percent and West Texas Intermediate 1 percent as thousands of workers in Kuwait started industrial action over planned wage cuts.

Prices had plunged early Monday soon after news that the long-awaited meeting of major producers in Doha had collapsed, fanning worries about a persistent global oversupply.

However, the losses were pared through the day on the strike, which has caused output to dive more than 60 percent in Kuwait, the fourth largest producer in the OPEC exporter cartel.

AFP

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