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Asian markets bounce on US jobs figures, ECB hopes

August 6, 2012

HONG KONG: Asian markets rebounded strongly today on better-than-expected US jobs data while traders took a more positive view of the European Central Bank’s position on the eurozone debt crisis.

The single currency hit its highest level against the dollar in a month as concerns over the eurozone and the US eased, while hopes grew that Greece will meet its obligations to qualify for another tranche of rescue cash.

Tokyo rose 2.0%, or 171.18 points, to 8,726.29, Seoul climbed 2.01%, or 37.20 points, to 1,885.88 and Sydney closed 1.21%, or 51.1 points, higher at 4,272.6.

Hong Kong jumped 1.69%, or 332.54 points, to 19,998.72 while Shanghai added 1.04%, or 22.12 points, to close at 2,154.92.

In the United States the Labor Department said on Friday that the economy added 163,000 jobs in July – the strongest gain since February and beating forecasts for a gain of 100,000.

Despite a 0.1 percentage point rise in the unemployment rate to 8.3% the figures were welcomed by investors who took the report as a sign of resilience in the world’s number one economy.

The result sent Wall Street surging. The Dow jumped 1.69%, the Nasdaq climbed 2.00% and the S&P 500 rose 1.90%.

The figures were welcome news for the markets, which had been sent tumbling on Thursday after the ECB failed to announce any concrete plans to support the euro, despite comment from its head Mario Draghi that it would do whatever was needed.

However, the initial disappointment was reversed in Europe and on Wall Street after bank officials said on Friday it could intervene and buy the bonds of struggling eurozone countries without unanimous approval.

Those comments raised hopes that a bond buying programme to help struggling countries such as Spain and Italy is still possible.

The ECB “seems to be cooking up something internally”, Jung Seung-jae, analyst at Mirae Asset Securities in South Korea, told Dow Jones Newswires.

“Action may come earlier than expected.”

On currency markets the euro surged in early trade to a one-month high of US$1.2442 as traders became more confident in higher-risk, higher-yielding assets.

The currency later eased back to US$1.2360 in the afternoon, compared with US$1.2381 in late trade in New York on Friday.

The euro bought 96.89 yen compared with 97.30 yen in New York, although well up from the 95.18 yen in Tokyo on Friday.

The dollar bought 78.35 yen, from 78.59 yen.

Also providing some support to markets were comments from Greece’s international creditors yesterday that the country was committed to hammering out further spending cuts to secure a new batch of aid.

The so-called troika of creditors – the EU, IMF and ECB – met about the reforms Greece needs to implement to secure 31.5 billion euros in aid and stay afloat.

“We made good progress,” IMF official Poul Thomsen told reporters after the meeting.

That eased concerns that Athens was not doing enough to satisfy its creditors and could be refused the cash, which would in turn be likely to lead to a default.

Oil prices eased after posting impressive gains in Friday trade in the United States.

New York’s main contract, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) light sweet crude for delivery in September, fell 49 US cents to US$90.91 a barrel in the afternoon and Brent North Sea crude for September delivery shed 26 US cents to US$108.68.

Gold was at US$1,604.60 at 0805 GMT, from US$1,595.50 on Friday.

In other markets:

  • Taipei rose 0.95%, or 68.82 points, to 7,286.33. Hon Hai Precision was up by its 7.0% daily limit at Tw$87.3 while Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co was 1.38% higher at Tw$80.9.
  • Manila ended flat, dipping 0.03%, or 1.75 points, to 5,284.16.
  • Wellington closed 0.43% higher, adding 15.21 points to 3,563.20. Telecom Corp was up 1.12% to NZ$2.71, while Fletcher Building gained 1.62% to NZ$6.27.



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