Friday, 9 August 2013 00:00
Reuters: Asian stocks rebounded and investors snapped up the Australian dollar after trade data out of China far exceeded expectations on Thursday, helping cheer markets worried about slower growth in Asia’s economic powerhouse.
Copper scaled a seven-week peak after exports from China, a top metals consumer, rose 5.1% in July from a year ago and imports jumped 10.9%, a solid turnaround from unexpected falls in June. MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 1.0%, recovering more than half of Wednesday’s losses. Tokyo’s Nikkei climbed 1.4%, clawing back some of its 4.0% drop in the previous session.
“Both the export and import figures surprised the market on the upside, thanks to an improving external environment as well as Beijing’s targeted measures to shore up the economy,” said Zhou Hao, an economist at ANZ in Shanghai.
“The recovery in the world economy, especially the encouraging signs from the U.S. economy, may continue to underpin trade growth in the second half and we expect China is able to achieve its 8% annual target for trade.”
Markets took in their stride a widely expected decision by the Bank of Japan to maintain its massive monetary stimulus. The stronger Nikkei saw the yen trim recent gains against the dollar and euro. The dollar advanced 0.4% to 96.77 yen, while the euro put on 0.5% to 129.08.
Still, both currencies were still on track to post losses against the yen this week. The Nikkei has also fallen since Friday. Against the dollar, the euro was steady at $ 1.3332 not far from a seven-week high of $ 1.3347 scaled overnight.
Investors bought the Australian dollar after the Chinese trade data, pushing it up 0.7% to $ 0.9055. China is Australia’s single biggest export market and the Aussie is often used as a liquid proxy for China plays. Also inspired by the Chinese trade numbers, copper jumped 2% to $7,146.25, reaching highs not seen since mid-June.
Gold was a touch firmer at $ 1,293 an ounce, having set a three-week trough of $ 1.272.64 on Wednesday, while US crude drifted up to $ 104.83 a barrel, edging away from a one-week low of $ 104.10.
Also as expected, South Korea’s central bank held interest rates steady at 2.50% for a third straight month.
Several financial markets in South East Asia including Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia are closed for a holiday marking the end of the Ramadan fasting season. India and the Philippines will shut on Friday for the same occasion.