Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Asian markets pick up Wall St baton to end week on a high

Sep 21. 2018
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By Agence France-Presse
Hong Kong

Asian markets enjoyed another day of strong buying on Friday, helping them to end the week with a flourish as investors looked past the China-US trade row to focus on the booming American economy.

The upbeat mood on trading floors was being felt across the board, with embattled emerging market currencies seeing a recovery, while some observers suggested a fear of missing out was also providing some lift.

Regional dealers were given a strong lead from Wall Street, where the Dow and S&P 500 chalked up record closes as easing concerns about Washington and Beijing's tit-for-tat tariffs were mixed with a string of positive US data, including on jobless claims and household net worth.

"Make no mistake, the US economy is running on all cylinders," said Stephen Innes, head of Asia-Pacific trade at OANDA.

"Robust growth, soaring employment and rising capital investments, suggesting the healthy US economy is more than just a short-term knock-on effect from the intravenous elixir of easy credit and fiscal glucose."

That filtered through to Asia where Tokyo ended 0.8 percent higher and Hong Kong climbed 1.7 percent. Shanghai surged 2.5 percent after the Chinese government unveiled measures to boost domestic consumption.

Sydney gained 0.4 percent, Singapore jumped 1.3 percent, Seoul added 0.7 percent and Manila rallied three percent. Taipei and Jakarta were also well up.

In early trade London added 0.8 percent, Frankfurt rose 0.7 percent, while Paris was 0.5 percent higher.

"Fundamentals in many places are very strong, particularly the US," Grant Forster, Principal Global Investors' chief executive officer for Australia, told Bloomberg TV. "We don't expect this (trade row) to really derail US growth at all."

EM currencies bounce

Emerging market currencies -- beaten down in recent weeks by fears of contagion from crises in Turkey, South Africa and Argentina -- were also basking in the optimism as traders sought out higher-risk assets.

South Korea's won rose 0.4 percent, while the Indonesian rupiah added 0.3 percent and the Indian rupee was up 0.7 percent, pulling it away from recent record lows. South Africa's rand and the Turkish lira jumped more than one percent.

China's yuan extended gains after Premier Li Keqiang said this week that Beijing would not devalue the unit to offset the impact of Donald Trump's import tariffs.

The pound and euro also extended Thursday's gains following strong economic data out of Britain and Europe. Sterling is on course to break the $1.33 mark for the first time since the start of July.

The Hong Kong dollar jumped, with analysts suggesting dealers were betting on a possible rise in interest rates in the next few weeks as liquidity tightens.

While the unit's peg to the US dollar means the city's monetary policy follows the Federal Reserve, an abundance of cash in the financial system has previously prevented the prime rate -- which affects mortgages -- from rising.

Traders are awaiting next week's Fed policy meeting, where it is expected to lift interest rates again, while its statement will be pored over for forward guidance regarding further hikes.

On oil markets, both main contracts edged up after being hit Thursday by Trump's tweet calling for OPEC to lower prices.

His remarks come as the group prepares to meet in Algiers this weekend with other key producers, with analysts expecting them to discuss the upcoming cut in oil exports from Iran as US nuclear sanctions kick in.

Key figures around 0810 GMT

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: UP 0.8 percent at 23,869.93 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng: UP 1.7 percent at 27,953.58 (close)

Shanghai - Composite: UP 2.5 percent at 2,797.48 (close)

London - FTSE 100: UP 0.8 percent at 7,424.95

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.1785 from $1.1777 at 2100 GMT

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.3294 from $1.3268

Dollar/yen: UP at 112.80 yen from 112.50 yen

Oil - West Texas Intermediate: UP 17 cents at $70.49 per barrel (new contract)

Oil - Brent Crude: UP 35 cents at $78.05 per barrel

New York - Dow Jones: UP 1.0 percent at 26,656.98 (close).

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