Asian shares extend gains as investor fears ease


By Hideyuki Sano

Asian shares extended their gains on Tuesday as a combination of stabilizing Chinese markets, a rebound in oil prices and solid U.S. consumption data drove investors to look for bargains after last week’s rout.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan gained 0.6 percent, with Chinese bank shares .HSNF leading the gains after a surprise jump in China’s bank lending data.

Mainland Chinese shares .CSI300 also rose 2.5 percent to three-week highs.

Japan’s Nikkei .N225 rose 0.9 percent after a 7.2 percent climb on Monday, recovering a sizable part of its 11 percent slump last week – its biggest since 2008.

On Monday, European stocks rose 2.9 percent .FTEU3, having shed nearly 10 percent over the last two weeks. U.S. financial markets were closed for a national holiday but globally-traded U.S. stock futures rose 1.5 percent.

“It is partly a reaction after such big falls last week. Solid U.S. data is also improving investor sentiment given that they are counting on U.S. growth to lead the global economy,” said Hirokazu Kabeya, chief global strategist at Daiwa Securities.

U.S. retail sales data published on Friday showing firm growth allayed fears – at least for now – that the U.S. economy could be dragged into recession as growth stumbles in many parts of the world.

Sentiment on the U.S. currency also improved, with the dollar rising to 114.65 yen JPY=, recovering further from a 15-month low of 110.985 touched on Thursday.

The euro also eased to as low as $1.1128 on Monday EUR=, retreating from Thursday’s 3 1/2-month high of $1.1377, and last stood at $1.1173.

The common currency was also driven lower by remarks from European Central Bank President Mario Draghi that the bank is ready to ease policy further in March.

Gold extended fall from Thursday’s one-year peak of $1,262.90 per ounce as safe-haven buying in the precious metal in recent weeks was rolled back.

It fell 0.6 percent to $1,203.90, unable to find a floor after 2.2 percent on Monday, which was its biggest fall in almost seven months.

Oil prices gained on news of a rare private meeting of top officials from the world’s biggest oil producers spurred speculation of an eventual deal to tackle a deep supply glut.

Global benchmark Brent futures rose 3.3 percent to $34.48 a barrel, rising to their highest level in a week. U.S. crude futures CLc1 also jumped back above $30.

As risk sentiment improved, yields on top-rated government bond rose, with the 10-year U.S. Treasuries yield rising 4.7 basis points to 1.793 percent from 1.746 percent at the end of last week.

In Japan, the Bank of Japan started implementing negative interest rates on Tuesday. The benchmark interbank lending rate fell to zero percent but not to negative levels partly because some banks have not fixed their system to deal with negative rates.

(Reporting by Hideyuki Sano; Editing by Eric Meijer and Sam Holmes)



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