Asian stocks rise on regional developments

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HONG KONG: Asian markets rose on Monday as strong Chinese trade data lifted hopes for the global economic outlook, while Japanese stocks were boosted by improved growth figures and Tokyo’s successful bid to host the 2020 Olympics.

Weaker-than-forecast US jobs figures raised concerns about the world’s number one economy, but also fueled hope that the US Federal Reserve will hold off winding down its stimulus program for the time being.

Tokyo rose 2.48 percent, or 344.42 points to 14,205.23. Japanese dealers bought into construction and real estate plays after Tokyo’s Olympics success, while there was also cheers for better-than expected gross domestic product (GDP) for the April to June quarter.

Sydney rose 0.71 percent, or 36.5 points to 5,181.5 in the first session back after the conservative Liberal/National coalition won a weekend general election in Australia as widely expected.


Shanghai soared 3.39 percent, or 72.53 points to 2,212.52, and Hong Kong added 0.57 percent, or 129.43 points to 22,750.65. Seoul closed 0.99 percent higher, adding 19.36 points to 1,974.67.

Chinese data on Sunday showed exports jumped 7.2 percent year-on-year to $190.6 billion last month, much better than the 6 percent expected by economists. It was also better than the 5.1-percent rise seen in July.

The figures are the latest in a string of good results out of Beijing that indicate China’s painful slowdown over much of the first six months of 2013 may have come to an end. Earlier this month, the government said that manufacturing activity grew at its fastest pace in 16 months in August.

Investors were cheered by the news as Chinese growth is key to helping drive the economies of many other countries in the region.

Tokyo dealers were in buying mood after the Olympics result when data was unveiled, showing the Japanese economy grew 0.9 percent over the previous quarter in April to June, up from a preliminary reading of 0.6 percent.

On an annualized basis, the economy expanded 3.8 percent, the government said, up from the first estimate of 2.6 percent. Annualized figures show the rate of growth if the data was stretched across an entire year.

“The Olympics, better-than-expected China’s export data and strong GDP data are all supporting the market today,” Haruhiko Kuramochi, strategist at Mizuho Securities, told Dow Jones Newswires.

The Nikkei was also supported by a weaker yen, as confidence in the global economy saw investors move into higher-risk assets looking for better returns.

In afternoon forex trade, the dollar bought 99.60 yen against 99.11 yen on Friday in New York City. The euro was at $1.3171 and 131.21 yen compared with $1.3180 and 130.62 yen.

The greenback suffered a sell-off on Friday after the US Labor Department said that the economy added 169,000 jobs in August, below projections of 177,000. The report also lowered the estimates for jobs added in June and July.

However, while the result suggests the US economy is not as strong as hoped, it means that the Federal Reserve’s plans to reel in its stimulus program may be put off a little longer.

Scott Wren, a senior equity strategist at Wells Fargo Advisors, said that the report “wasn’t good at all” but added: “It’s a ‘what’s bad is good’ type of thing.”

Emerging markets—especially in emerging economies—were hammered last month as foreigners fled back to the West in expectations the Fed will start to cut back on its vast bond purchases by the end of the year.

On Wall Street, the Dow fell 0.10 percent, and the S&P 500 and Nasdaq were flat.

While buying sentiment was strong, an ongoing dispute between Russia and the US over Syria had dealers on edge, as presidents Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin failed Friday to reach agreement at a Group of 20 summit on how to deal with the crisis.

AFP

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