Asian stock markets were mostly higher on Monday, as upbeat data out of China and the U.S. fuelled optimism over the health of the global economy.
During late Asian trade, Hong Kong''s Hang Seng Index inched up 0.4%, Australia’s ASX/200 Index ended 0.8% lower, while Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index closed 2.29% higher. Data released Friday showed that the U.S. economy added 203,000 jobs in November, above expectations for jobs growth of 180,000. The unemployment rate fell to a five-year low of 7.0% from 7.3% in October.
Meanwhile, in China, data released earlier showed that consumer price inflation rose 3% in November, slowing from 3.2% in October.
The inflation report came one day after data showed that China’s trade surplus widened to USD33.8 billion last month from a surplus of USD31.1 billion in October, compared to estimates for a surplus of USD21.7 billion.
Chinese exports climbed 12.7% from a year earlier, beating expectations for a 7.1% increase and following a 5.6% gain in October. Imports rose 5.3%, compared to forecasts for a 7.2% increase.
In Tokyo, the Nikkei surged to a one-week high as the U.S. dollar strengthened to 103.21 against the yen, boosting sentiment. A weaker yen increases the value of overseas income at Japanese companies when repatriated, boosting outlook for export earnings.
Automakers Toyota and Mazda saw shares climb 1.3% and 3% respectively, while Sony and Canon rose 1.3% and 1.2%.
Index heavyweights Fast Retailing and Softbank saw shares rally 3.4% and 2.2% respectively.
Data released earlier showed that Japan’s economy grew by a seasonally adjusted 1.1% in the third quarter, below expectations for growth of 1.6% and down from a preliminary estimate of 1.9%.
Meanwhile, in Hong Kong, the Hang Seng edged higher following the release of upbeat Chinese trade data.
Market players now looked ahead to a raft of Chinese economic data later in the week, including reports on industrial production, fixed asset investment and retail sales.
Elsewhere, in Australia, the ASX/200 Index fell to a three-month low as losses in the financial sector weighed on the benchmark index.
The nation’s largest insurer QBE Insurance saw shares plunge 22.3% after the firm warned it may post an unexpected net loss of AUD250 million for the year, due to higher claims provisions in North America.
The big four banks were mostly lower, with National Australia Bank dropping 0.9%, while ANZ Banking Group and Westpac Banking Group slumped 0.8% and 1.3%.
Looking ahead, European stock market futures pointed to a modestly higher open.
The EURO STOXX 50 futures pointed to a gain of 0.4% at the open, France’s CAC 40 futures added 0.25%, London’s FTSE 100 futures indicated a gain of 0.35%, while Germany''s DAX futures pointed to a rise of 0.45%.
Germany is to release reports on the trade balance and industrial production. In addition, the Eurogroup of euro zone finance ministers is to hold talks in Brussels.
Meanwhile, in the U.S., equity markets also pointed to gains at the open. The Dow Jones Industrial Average futures pointed to a 0.2% rise, S&P 500 futures signaled a 0.2% advance, while the Nasdaq 100 futures indicated a gain of 0.15%.
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