Asian markets mostly up on US data

4 Oct 2012 – AAP –

Asian markets mostly rose on Thursday as investors cheered upbeat US economic data, but nagging concerns over Europe kept advances in check.

An increase in risk appetite and speculation about possible fresh Bank of Japan monetary easing lifted the dollar and euro against the yen, which in turn provided a platform for the Nikkei index.

Tokyo gained 0.89 per cent, or 77.72 points, to 8,824.59, Sydney added 0.31 per cent, or 13.8 points, to 4,452.4.

Hong Kong was 0.09 per cent higher, closing 19.67 points up at 20,907.95, but Seoul eased 0.17 per cent, or 3.35 points, to 1,992.68.

Shanghai is closed for a week-long public holiday.

Regional shares took their cue from Wall Street, which ended in positive territory after jobs and services figures provided some hope for the economy.

The Institute for Supply Management released its services industry index on Wednesday, which showed the crucial sector picking up pace although hiring remained flat.

Separately, payrolls company ADP released a report showing private-sector hiring was better than expected in September, with 162,000 jobs added.

Despite being down 14 per cent from August the slowdown is less than expected.

US dealers welcomed the announcements. The Dow finished up 0.09 per cent, the S&P 500 was 0.36 per cent higher and the Nasdaq climbed 0.49 per cent.

Eyes are now firmly on policy meetings over the next two days for the European Central Bank, the Bank of Japan and Bank of England, while closely watched non-farm payrolls are due out of Washington on Friday.

“There is a little bit of a wait-and-see attitude in Asia this week,” said Wee Khoon Chong, Asia rates strategist at Societe Generale in Hong Kong.

On currency markets the euro rose to $1.2939 and ¥101.76 in afternoon trade, compared with $1.2903 and ¥101.31 in New York late on Wednesday.

The dollar was at ¥78.60 against ¥78.51.

Speculation has grown in the past few days that the BoJ may unveil new easing steps.

While analysts say it probably won’t announce any fresh measures after a two-day meeting on Friday, pressure is likely to continue for more action ahead of its next meeting scheduled for October 30.

Europe’s debt woes continue to weigh after Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said on Tuesday he would not request a bailout any time soon, despite the parlous state of the country’s finances and its dangerously high borrowing costs.

Spain, the eurozone’s fourth-biggest economy, is required to make a formal demand for help in order to trigger the release of eurozone rescue funds and supportive bond-buying action from the European Central Bank.

Oil prices rose. New York’s main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in November, gained 56 cents to $88.70 a barrel and Brent North Sea crude added 83 cents to $109.00.

Gold was at $1,780.57 at 0600 GMT (1600 AEST) on Thursday compared with $1,778.50 on Wednesday.