HONG KONG: A strong lead from Wall Street gave Asian stock markets a lift on Friday, after all three major US indices vaulted to new records as the oil price rebounded.
Markets were up even as economic data from China missed expectations – a disappointing sign for growth in the world’s second largest economy.
The three-way record in the US, last seen among the leading indices in 1999, came amid strong gains in petroleum-linked shares and retailers, while European stocks also pushed higher thanks to accommodative central bank policies lending continued support to equities.
Among the performers was China’s New York-listed e-commerce behemoth Alibaba, which re-ported sales of 32.15 billion yuan ($4.83 billion), 59 percent higher than the level a year ago and above analyst expectations.
Oil prices were buoyed by a Saudi Arabian minister’s comments that crude producers may take action to rebalance the market, and extended their gains in Asian trade.
“Asia Pacific markets are set to finish the week on a high following strong leads from European and US investors,” Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist at CMC Markets in Sydney, said in an email commentary.
“Industrial commodities rose, led by oil, and overnight trading displayed ‘risk on’ characteristics despite the lack of an obvious trigger.”
Tokyo was up 0.7 percent, having been closed Thursday for a national holiday, while Sydney gained 0.3 percent.
Taipei, Manila and Bangkok also traded higher.
Shanghai rose 0.2 percent and Hong Kong advanced 0.6 percent, even as China data disappointed.
Government figures released Friday showed that retail sales in the Asian powerhouse rose 10.2 percent year-on-year in July, a sharp slowdown from the 10.6 percent increase in June and below the median forecast of a 10.5 percent rise in a Bloomberg News poll of economists.
Also missing expectations was factory output, which increased 6.0 percent in July over the year before, and fixed asset investment (FAI), a gauge of infrastructure spending, which rose 8.1 per-cent in the first seven months of the year.
Industrial output had been expected to show 6.2 percent growth and FAI 8.9 percent growth.
“Though the economic data are weak, they are still within an acceptable range to investors,” Wang Zheng, the Shanghai-based chief investment officer at Jingxi Investment Management Co told Bloomberg News.
The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said in a statement China’s economy was “basically steady” in July but that “serious disasters” from flooding and high temperatures in some parts of the coun-try caused some indicators to slow.
Beijing is looking to retool the economy from a reliance on investment spending and exports to one driven more by consumer demand, but the transition is proving bumpy and gross domestic product growth expanded last year at its slowest rate in a quarter of a century.
Energy stocks were among those seeing gains after the oil price rebounded.
Hong Kong-listed CNOOC rose 2.2 percent while Santos added 3.3 percent in Sydney and Formosa Chemical Corporation also advanced 2.2 percent in Taipei.
Oil, which had entered a “bear” market last week, dropped Wednesday after US data showed crude stocks remained high and a report from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries revealed Saudi Arabian oil production had risen last month to nearly 11 million barrels per day.
But in remarks reported Thursday, Saudi oil minister Khalid al-Falih said producers could agree to cut output next month at an informal OPEC meeting.
“His enchanting words sent equity markets into a froth,” said Stephen Innes, senior trader at OANDA Asia Pacific.
“Despite signals pointing to a potentially enormous bulge in crude stocks for 2017, there appears to be no taming of the oil market bull when OPEC speaks.”