Asia stocks in 17-months high on China trade

Asian stocks rose to a 17-month high on Monday as a strong rebound in China’s exports raised optimism about the region’s economic outlook as the dollar suffered following weak U.S. jobs data.

China’s exports and imports last month blew past expectations, with exports surging 17.7 percent from a year earlier to break 13 months of declines. The trade data, released on Sunday, triggered a shift into Asian assets as investors shrugged off Friday’s disappointing U.S. non-farm payrolls data.

Gold pushed up to a five-week high as the data showed a sharp rise in China’s commodity imports and sent the Australian dollar to a 26-month peak against the euro.

Chia-Liang Lian, a senior vice president at bond fund PIMCO said Asia’s domestic fundamentals make the region highly attractive.

“We have seen how Asia has navigated successfully through a tough year with a score card that is nothing short of spectacular,” Lian told Reuters in an interview.

The MSCI index of Asia Pacific stocks traded outside Japan hit its highest level since July 2008.

The index and the Thomson Reuters index of regional shares were up 1.4 percent and 0.8 percent, respectively.

Japanese financial markets were closed for a public holiday.

Australia’s leading share index rose 0.8 percent to a 15-month high as the China data lifted resource companies that benefit from Chinese demand.

The Australian dollar soared to 0.6442 euros, its highest in more than two years, and a five-week high against the dollar at $0.9305.


Shares in Shanghai climbed 1 percent after the trade data underlined the vigor of the economy.

Shares of Aluminum Corp of China (Chalco), the country’s top aluminum company, surged 4 percent in Hong Kong.

Chinese brokerage shares also rallied after news late last week that Beijing had decided to allow stock index futures and margin trading.

The dollar, however, extended losses stemming from the jobs report, which dampened expectations of an early rise in U.S. interest rates.

A member of the U.S. Federal Reserve monetary policy committee, James Bullard, said on Monday that U.S. rates may remain low for quite sometime, reiterating the central bank’s long standing position.

Bullard, the president of the St Louis Federal Reserve Bank, made the comments in remarks prepared for a speech in Shanghai.

The dollar dropped 0.6 percent against a basket of currencies and was changing hands at $1.4492 against the euro, down from $1.4414 late in New York on Friday.

The U.S. economy shed 85,000 jobs in December, confounding expectations that the jobs market was finally stabilizing. Still, analysts argued the outcome was consistent with economic recovery because the pace of job losses had dropped sharply since the height of recession.

That view carried over into the stock market. U.S. stocks rose on Friday after trading in the red for most of the day.

The Dow Jones industrial average and S&P 500 hit 15-month highs, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq climbed to a 16-month peak.

Oil jumped more than 1 percent, topping $83 a barrel, on the back of the weak dollar and a surge in China’s crude oil imports last month.

Extremely cold weather in parts of the northern hemisphere also continued to support the oil price, which some analysts suggesting it is heading to $85 a barrel. It is still 43 percent below its July 2008 high of more than $147 a barrel though.

China’s export rebound fueled expectations China could soon let the yuan start rising again.

A stronger yuan would benefit pricing for fellow Asian exporters. So Asian currencies rose, notably the Korean won, which struck its highest level against the dollar in more than 15 months.

Source: Reuters

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