• Asian markets, currencies recover on upbeat manufacturing data

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    HONG KONG: Asian markets firmed on Friday as a slew of upbeat manufacturing data from around the globe offset concerns about the US Federal Reserve’s plans for its stimulus program.

    The positive lead provided a much-needed boost for emerging economies, which have suffered a torrid week as dealers bet on an end to the Fed’s monetary easing that has fueled an investment splurge in Asia.

    Tokyo jumped 2.21 percent, thanks to a rally in the dollar against the yen, ending 295.38 points higher at 13,660.55. At one point the index was more than 3 percent higher.

    Sydney climbed 0.94 percent, or 47.7 points to 5,123.4, and Seoul added 1.14 percent, or 21.04 points to end at 1,870.16.

    In the afternoon, Hong Kong added 0.10 percent, but Shanghai eased 0.61 percent. Jakarta rallied 1.42 percent while Kuala Lumpur climbed 0.34 percent and Manila, which slumped almost 6 percent on Thursday, was up 0.40 percent. The Sensex in Mumbai was 0.42 percent higher.

    Dealers were given a positive lead from markets in Europe and the United States, which soared on strong data that illustrated a pick-up in economic fortunes.

    The preliminary composite purchasing managers index of business activity (PMI) for the eurozone jumped to a 26-month high of 51.7 points for August from 50.5 in July. Anything above 50 indicates expansion, while a reading below 50 points to contraction.

    And in the United States the flash PMI came in at 53.9, up from a final July reading of 53.7.

    The data followed a similar upturn in China, where HSBC said that its PMI reading hit a four-month high of 50.1, which added to recent figures suggesting a slowdown in the Asian economic giant is coming to an end.

    On Wall Street, the Dow rose 0.44 percent, the S&P 500 added 0.86 percent, and the Nasdaq jumped 1.08 percent.

    Those rises came despite an unexplained glitch that shut down trading on the Nasdaq for about three hours, which interrupted business on other markets.

    Thursday’s figures came as some relief to global traders in a week that has seen heavy selling—particularly in emerging nations—in expectation the Fed’s bond-buying scheme known as quantitative easing (QE) will soon come to an end.

    Jakarta fell almost 9 percent in the four days ending Thursday, while Bangkok was down 6.5 percent over the same period. Manila slid 6 percent on Thursday.

    In forex trade, the upbeat sentiment sent the dollar rising to 99.05 yen in afternoon trade, from 98.68 yen late in New York City, and 98.21 yen in Tokyo on Thursday. The euro bought $1.3340 and 132.12 yen compared with $1.3354 and 131.80 yen.

    Dealers also took a breather from selling emerging market currencies, with the Indian rupee at 64.67 to the dollar, well up from the record low 65.56 it touched on Thursday. Indonesia’s rupiah was at 10,900 from 10,945. Thailand’s baht edged up to 31.96 from 32.01.

    However, traders remain jittery after the release on Wednesday of minutes from the Fed’s July meeting was unable to provide clarity on when it may begin to wind down QE.

    Expectations of an end to the stimulus have seen foreigners in recent months repatriate some of the vast sums that have poured into emerging economies, in turn hitting currencies and equities.

    AFP

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