Asian markets edge higher on Wall St lead

April 30, 2012

Asian markets rose on Monday, following a positive lead from Wall Street as dealers look ahead to the release of key economic data and European elections over the next week.

Sydney gained 0.79 percent, or 34.5 points, to 4,396.6 and Seoul put on 0.34 percent, or 6.64 points, to 1,981.99 while Hong Kong climbed 1.70 percent, or 352.76 points, to 21,094.21.

Tokyo and Shanghai were closed for public holidays.

With no catalysts to drive buying in Asia traders looked to Wall Street, which saw its three main indexes close in the green thanks to a strong earnings report from online retail giant Amazon, which said sales in the January-March quarter soared 34 percent.

The Dow added 0.18 percent, the S&P 500 advanced 0.24 percent and the Nasdaq rose 0.61 percent.

Markets seemed to shrug off figures showing the world’s biggest economy grew at a slower pace than forecast in the first quarter, with analysts pointing out that personal consumption — the biggest contributor to growth — rose more than expected.

Washington released data showing growth of 2.2 percent in the January-March period, well down from the 3.0 percent chalked up in the previous three months and below predictions varying from 2.5 percent to 3.2 percent expansion.

On currency markets the euro bought $1.3251 in late afternoon Asian trade, down from $1.3258 on Friday. The European currency also lost ground against the Japanese yen, falling to 106.20 yen from 106.61 yen.

The dollar was at 80.15 yen from 80.29 yen on Friday.

Eyes will be on several events through the week, including Chinese manufacturing data, US jobs figures, a policy decision by the European Central Bank and the presidential election run-off in France.

“The non-farm payroll number in the US will be in focus on Friday, after which the market will turn its attention to French and Greek elections on Sunday. Cautiousness will be the watchword for the week and risk aversion is unlikely to go lower meaningfully,” Credit Agricole in a note to clients.

On oil markets New York’s main contract, West Texas Intermediate crude for delivery in June was up two cents to $104.95 per barrel while Brent North Sea crude for June shed 30 cents to $119.53 in late afternoon.

Gold was at $1,663.20 an ounce at 0800 GMT, compared with $1,655.50 late Friday.

In other markets:

– Taipei rose 0.28 percent, or 21.22 points, to 7,501.72.

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co was up 0.93 percent at Tw$86.8 while Hon Hai Precision closed down by its 7.0 percent daily limit at Tw$92.4.

– Manila closed 0.65 percent, or 33.65 points, higher at 5,202.70.

Philippine Long Distance Telephone rose 0.15 percent to 2,588 pesos and Ayala Corp added 0.46 percent to close at 430 pesos.

– Wellington added 0.69 percent, or 24.22 points, to 3,555.87.

Telecom climbed 0.6 percent to NZ$2.63 and Fletcher Building rallied 1.0 percent to NZ$6.26, while NZ Refining advanced 0.7 percent to NZ$2.87.

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