Asia extends stocks rally as upbeat US GDP calms nerves

28 Aug, 2015 1:27 pm

SINGAPORE/TOKYO – Asian shares extended a global rally on Friday after upbeat US economic data calmed sentiment, with Chinese stocks jumping for the second day following a rocky start to the week.

Wall Street rose sharply overnight thanks to revised US gross domestic product data showing the economy grew faster than initially thought in the second quarter – a reassuring sign amid worries over deepening economic woes in China.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was up 1.3 percent. They were poised to gain 0.2 percent for the week after logging three-year lows as plunging Chinese shares had sent financial markets into a tailspin.

On Thursday, the S&P 500 recovered about half of its 11-percent drop over six days.

“We should see more investor appetite for riskier assets today, given the positive leads from the overnight markets,” Bernard Aw, market strategist at IG in Singapore, wrote in a note. “However, the market may be wary of putting in sizable positions ahead of the weekend.”

The improved mood and better-than-expected core consumer inflation data drove Japan’s Nikkei stock index up 2.3 percent, though it was still down 2.3 percent for the week.

China’s Shanghai Composite index rose 1.1 percent, paring its loss for the week to 11.1 percent. The Hong Kong Hang Seng index gained 0.8 percent, but was still down 1.8 percent for the week.

Crude oil futures rose, extending the previous season’s short-covering rally, which sent both US crude and Brent rocketing more than 10 percent each, their biggest one-day gains since 2008. Oil plunged to 6-1/2-year lows earlier this week.

US crude rose 0.9 percent to $42.94 a barrel, while Brent crude climbed 0.1 percent to $47.62.

Besides the upbeat US GDP, last week’s jobless claims also fell more than expected. That kept alive speculation that the Federal Reserve could raise interest rates this year if the economic momentum continues.

“Concerns about a possible softening in China’s economic growth have been offset by news of a sharp upward adjustment in US 2nd quarter GDP,” said Sydney-based Ric Spooner, chief market analyst at CMC Markets in a note to clients.

“From a growth point of view, the US Fed looks well placed to begin increasing interest rates in December.”

The dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of six rival currencies, last traded at 95.692, up about 0.1 percent, after logging a one-week high of 96.031 in the previous session. The index remained well above a seven-month low of 92.621 touched on Monday.

The dollar was steady from late US levels at 121.05 yen, significantly above Monday’s nadir of 116.15. The euro was also little changed at $1.1250.

Investors’ focus remained on an annual meeting of the world’s top central bankers at the Jackson Hole Economic Symposium in Wyoming, seeking clues on how the fallout of the recent market turbulence could affect the US central bank’s future policy steps.

“We have to be careful … trying to decide today how we might react to” recent financial market volatility, Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank President Esther George told Bloomberg TV in an interview that aired on Thursday. George, known as a hawk, said that the US economy still appears to be on solid ground.

Her comments followed New York Federal Reserve President William Dudley’s remarks on Wednesday that the prospect of a September rate hike “seems less compelling to me than it was a few weeks ago” in light of the global market volatility.

Gold was up 0.4 percent at $1,130 an ounce but still on track for a 2.6 percent loss for the week. -Reuters

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