Asian markets rise as eurozone improves

2012-01-03 11:17

World stock markets rose as market confidence grew after the release of manufacturing data that showed improvement in Europe.

Benchmark oil rose above $100 per barrel while the dollar fell against the euro and the yen.

Britain’s FTSE 100 opened after a three-day holiday, gaining 1% at 5,625.17.

Germany’s DAX rose 0.8% to 6,125.05 while France’s CAC-40 fell 0.7% to 3,199.95.

Wall Street appeared headed for a mixed day of trading, with Dow Jones industrial futures up less than 0.1% to 12,158 and S&P 500 futures flat at 1,252.50.

Asian stocks rose as post-holiday trade began to acquire momentum. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index, on its first trading session of 2012, jumped 2.4% to close at 18,877.41.

South Korea’s Kospi index rose 2.7% to 1,875.41 and Australia’s S&P ASX 200 gained 1.1% at 4,101.20. Benchmarks in India, Singapore, Taiwan, Malaysia and Indonesia also rose.

Benchmarks in Japan, mainland China and Thailand remained closed for the extended New Year’s holiday.

Steadily improving economic news in the US and continued growth in China are providing traders with reasons for optimism in 2012, despite a debt crisis in Europe that shows few signs of abating.

“Nobody expects much from Europe, but you can expect better things from the US and China.

So, I think the market will rise in 2012 mainly because we started in a very low base,” said Francis Lun, managing director at Lyncean Holdings in Hong Kong.

Oil-related stocks posted solid gains as the price of crude hovered above $100 per barrel.

Hong Kong-listed PetroChina, China’s largest oil and gas producer, jumped 4.5%. China Petroleum and Chemical, Asia’s biggest oil refiner, gained 5.5%.

Other commodity shares headed upward. Australia’s Fortescue Metals Group added 3.3%.

Newcrest Mining rose 3.7% and BHP Billiton, the world’s largest mining company, rose 1.1%. Rival Rio Tinto added 1.8%.

Korean industrial shares posted solid gains. Hyundai Heavy Industries, the country’s leading shipbuilder, jumped 5.8%. Steel giant Posco rose 3.1%. Hyundai Motor soared 4.2%.

Yesterday, German and French stocks rose in light volumes as a reading of manufacturing activity in Europe improved in December from November.

But the purchasing managers index levels still show a fifth straight month of contraction – an indication of recession in the eurozone, analysts said.

“It seems unlikely that equity gains will be sustained over the rest of this week, with risk aversion set to remain elevated against the background of ongoing eurozone debt and global growth concerns,” Credit Agricole CIB said in a research note.

Many of the world’s leading indexes are starting 2012 after a down year. Britain’s FTSE was off 5.6% by year end, Japan’s Nikkei fell 17% to its lowest close since 1982, and the Standard & Poor’s 500 showed zero gain.

Data releases later in the week such as eurozone inflation on Wednesday and German factory orders and US non-farm payrolls on Friday will give traders more grist.

Benchmark crude for February delivery rose $1.76 to $100.59 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 82 cents to settle at $98.83 in New York on Friday.

In currencies, the euro rose to $1.2994 from $1.2946 late Friday in New York. The dollar fell to 76.80 yen from 77.78 yen.

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