Thursday, July 19, 2012

Asian shares rise after Wall Street lead

HONG KONG: Asian markets were lifted Thursday by a strong lead from Wall Street after upbeat earnings reports and Ben Bernanke's comments that the US Federal Reserve could step in to help the economy.

Tokyo rose 0.79 per cent, or 68.81 points, to 8,795.55, Seoul gained 1.56 per cent, or 28.05 points, to 1,822.96, and Sydney climbed 2.02 per cent, or 83.1 points, to 4,206.7.
Hong Kong was up 1.66 per cent, or 319.17 points, at 19,559.05 and Shanghai closed up 0.73 per cent, or 15.74 points, at 2,184.84.

Tech firms in Asia benefited from news that Intel, the world's leading semiconductor maker, had posted better-than-expected earnings for the April-June quarter.

Investor confidence on Wall Street lifted after Internet search giant Yahoo! posted above forecast results and Bank of America said it had swung back into the black in the second quarter after posting a loss of almost $9 billion a year ago.

The Dow climbed 0.81 per cent, the S&P 500 added 0.67 per cent and the Nasdaq advanced 1.12 per cent.

Adding to sentiment was the Federal Reserve's Beige Book report, which offered reassurance amid worries about a recent run of disappointing data, saying "overall economic activity continued to expand at a modest to moderate pace in June and early July".

Fed chairman Bernanke, testifying for a second day to Congress, reiterated that the economy was slowing and the central bank would act if warranted to boost growth.

He told lawmakers that it was "certainly possible" the central bank could take new steps to support the economy if the jobs market failed to pick up.

His comments followed Tuesday's testimony in which he warned second quarter growth in the world's biggest economy could come in lower than the first three months of the year.

Dealers also took heart from June housing starts data showing a rise of 6.9 per cent from May.

The dollar slipped on expectations of a fresh injection of cash by the Federal Reserve into the economy. In Tokyo trade, the greenback bought 78.58 yen compared with 78.78 yen in New York late Wednesday.

The euro was mixed after German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Wednesday she was "optimistic" but could not be certain that the European project would work, casting doubts on plans for tighter European integration.

The single currency bought $1.2290 and 96.63 yen, from $1.2280 and 96.75 yen.

Also Wednesday, the International Monetary Fund warned that the eurozone was in "critical" danger, and needed to make speedy moves towards a banking union and some form of pooled debt.

On oil markets New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in August, gained 64 cents to $90.51 a barrel in the late afternoon and Brent North Sea crude for September delivery was up 97 cents at $106.13.

Gold was at $1,581.05 an ounce at 0810 GMT, from $1,579.18 on Wednesday.
In other markets:

-- Taipei closed 1.41 per cent, or 99.52 points, higher at 7,148.57.

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co gained 3.61 per cent to end at NT$77.5 while Hon Hai Precision was 1.49 per cent higher at NT$88.3.

-- Manila fell 0.60 per cent, or 31.18 points, to 5,189.37.

Ayala Corp. was down 1.10 per cent at 430.20 pesos while SM Investments slipped 0.69 per cent to 720 pesos.
-- Wellington closed 0.34 per cent, or 11.72 points, higher at 3,485.78.

Telecom rose 0.6 per cent to NZ$2.54 and Fisher & Paykel Appliances added 0.9 per cent to NZ$0.57 but Fletcher Building was down 0.17 per cent at NZ$5.84.

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