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Asian markets staged a rare rally Wednesday following a bounce on Wall Street, with attention turning to the release of key US jobs data later in the week.
But while investors briefly have a spring in their step, a mountain of problems — from China-US trade tensions and Brexit, to Chinese weakness and rising US interest rates — is keeping optimism at a premium, agency reports.
October has been a painful month for Asian equities, which have seen billions wiped from their values, and observers warn of further pain, with
Washington and Beijing seemingly unlikely to back off from their tariffs standoff anytime soon.
Still, Wall Street put in a healthy performance Tuesday — the Dow added 1.8 percent while the S&P 500 and Nasdaq jumped 1.6 percent — after data showed US consumer confidence at a new 18-year high in October.
The positive reading sent the dollar up against the yen and the unit continued to rise in Asia after the Bank of Japan once again lowered its inflation forecasts, providing a push for Japanese exporters.
The Nikkei in Tokyo jumped 2.2 percent by the close.
In other markets Hong Kong added 1.6 percent and Shanghai closed 1.4 percent higher.
In mainland China, data indicating a slowdown in manufacturing activity in
October was offset by authorities’ support moves including tax cuts, measures to make it easier for firms to buy back shares and providing liquidity to markets.
– Sterling pressure –
Sydney rose 0.4 percent, Singapore climbed 1.3 percent and Taipei soared almost three percent. Wellington and Manila each jumped more than one percent while Seoul added 0.7 percent and Jakarta gained 0.2 percent.
London opened 1.2 percent higher, while Paris surged 1.6 percent and
Frankfurt added 1.1 percent.
On currency markets the dollar, boosted by a healthy US economy and expectations of more Federal Reserve rate hikes, was also holding gains against the euro, which has been hit by weak eurozone growth, German political uncertainty and Italy’s budget row with Brussels.
The pound edged up but is at a near three-month low and facing fresh downward pressure as officials struggle to reach a deal for Britain to leave the European Union, with just weeks to go before a deadline.
A strong jobs report out of Washington Friday could provide more evidence for the Fed to hike rates and put further upward pressure on the greenback.
“The deadline for an orderly divorce between the UK and the EU is fast approaching and neither side seems ready to compromise, increasing the probabilities of a no-deal exit,” said Alfonso Esparza, senior market analyst at OANDA.
Oil prices edged up after plunging Tuesday in response to figures showing a sharp build in US stockpiles.
“US sanctions against Iranian exports kick off next week providing some support for energy prices,” Esparza said.
But he added that key drivers of the drop in prices has been the weak growth outlook “and a possible oversupply if Russia and Saudi Arabia, the de facto leaders of the production limit, increase their supply more than closing the gap left by lower exports from Iran”.
– Key figures around 0820 GMT –
Tokyo – Nikkei 225: UP 2.2 percent at 21,920.46 (close)
Hong Kong – Hang Seng: UP 1.6 percent at 24,979.69 (close)
Shanghai – Composite: UP 1.4 percent at 2,602.78 (close)
London – FTSE 100: UP 1.2 percent at 7,122.83
Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.1345 from $1.1346 at 2030 GMT
Pound/dollar: UP at $1.2722 from $1.2708
Dollar/yen: UP at 113.18 from 112.97 yen
Oil – West Texas Intermediate: UP 56 cents at $66.74 per barrel
Oil – Brent Crude: UP 52 cents at $76.43 per barrel
New York – Dow: UP 1.8 percent at 24,874.64 (close)