HONG KONG, March 12 — Asian markets today extended last week’s rally as a solid US jobs report boosted optimism in the world’s top economy, fuelling a record close on Wall Street.
With sentiment still strong following Donald Trump’s decision to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in an unprecedented summit to discuss its nuclear programme, equities were on the up.
The upbeat developments helped temper worries about Trump’s announcement of steel and aluminium tariffs that sparked a sell-off earlier this month on worries about a trade war.
All three main indexes in New York rose almost two per cent on Friday with the Nasdaq chalking up a fresh record, erasing all the losses suffered through a tumultuous February.
Those gains extended into Asia, with Tokyo ending 1.7 per cent higher, while Hong Kong climbed 1.9 per cent, Shanghai finished 0.6 per cent higher and Seoul put on one per cent.
Sydney rose 0.6 per cent, helped by news Australia had won an exemption from Trump’s tariffs, Singapore piled on 1.6 per cent and Taipei added more than one per cent.
There were also healthy gains in Wellington, Manila and Jakarta.
‘Best of both worlds’
Investors were cheered by US Labor Department data that showed employers added a forecast-busting 313,000 jobs in February.
Markets were sent spiralling down after the January jobs data, which showed wage growth surging and fanned concerns the Fed would likely have to ramp up its pace and number of rate hikes.
“It doesn’t get much better than that for investors and at least for now has dampened the inflationary fears that weighed on investor sentiment in February. When coupled with an easing in trade rhetoric and positive news from the Korean Peninsula, risk sentiment is powering higher.”
The jobs figures and Trump-Kim summit helped oil prices surge on Friday but the commodity was unable to maintain early momentum in Asia.
While the mood is generally upbeat at the start of the week, AxiTrader analyst Greg McKenna warned tensions could come back easily.
“President Trump directly tweeted against the EU on tariffs over the weekend (and) China is still girding for a trade battle,” he added.
In early European trade, London rose 0.4 per cent, Paris added 0.5 per cent and Frankfurt piled on 0.8 per cent. — AFP
Key figures around 0820 GMT
Tokyo – Nikkei 225: UP 1.7 per cent at 21,824.03 (close)
Hong Kong – Hang Seng: UP 1.9 per cent at 31,594.33 (close)
London – FTSE 100: UP 0.4 per cent at 7,251.14
Dollar/yen: DOWN at 106.70 yen from 106.78 yen at 2140 GMT on Friday
Euro/dollar: UP at US$1.2320 from US$1.2317
Pound/dollar: DOWN at US$1.3855 from US$1.3865
Oil – West Texas Intermediate: UP nine cents at US$62.13 per barrel
Oil – Brent North Sea: FLAT at US$65.72 per barrel
New York – Dow: UP 1.8 per cent at 25,335.74 (close)
Source: The Malay Mail Online