Asian markets rise on U.S. and Europe cheer

Saturday, 20 November 2010 00:01 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

(Reuters) - Asian stock markets rose slightly on Friday and the euro held recent gains after a strong Wall Street performance and moves toward heading off a potential Irish debt crisis.

By 0745 GMT the MSCI All-Country World equity index .MIWD00000PUS was up 0.2 percent after hitting a one-month low earlier in the week.

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index  of top shares opened flat.

Shares in Shanghai and South Korea  rose nearly 1 percent, while Japan’s Nikkei  average marked a five-month closing high above 10,000, propelled by hedge fund inflows from overseas and with a fall in the yen providing additional support.

Blue-chip shares rose broadly. Banking stocks were likely buoyed by short-covering and fresh buying by a U.S. brokerage on the view that they are undervalued, one market player said.

The charts also point to stronger upside potential after the Nikkei on Thursday broke through solid resistance at its 200-day moving average for the first time since May.

“Many hedge funds close books in November and now is a time when short-covering tends to emerge. Solid U.S. economic data and GM’s listing yesterday are also lending help,” said Hiroaki Kuramochi, chief equity marketing officer at Tokai Tokyo Securities.

The Nikkei ended the day up 0.1 percent to 10,022.39, its highest finish since June 22. On the week, it added 3.1 percent. The broader Topix . was also up 0.1 percent.

The euro edged up 0.2 percent to $1.3670, supported by rising expectations of a financial rescue plan for Ireland. The euro held onto its recent gains but stopped short of breaking above major resistance after analysts warned that the single currency was not out of the woods yet, with Ireland’s debt troubles threatening to spill over to other highly indebted peripheral euro zone countries such as Portugal.

The dollar held steady against a basket of currencies and against the yen.

News that Ireland may avert a debt crisis weighed on bonds. The benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note fell 5/32 in price to lift yields to 2.90 percent.

U.S. crude oil futures gained nearly 40 cents to $82.02 per barrel, retracing part of a four-session drop, while spot gold was at $1,357.45 an ounce.

In South Korea, investors resumed bond purchases on Friday after comments from Vice Finance Minister Yim Jong-yong and on market hopes that foreigners’ existing holdings would not be subject to a bond tax aimed at curbing hot money flows.

Yim told Reuters the government preferred the option of imposing flexible withholding tax rates, but did not elaborate on what that would mean in practice.

“The appetite for Asian bonds is pretty strong and Korean bonds stand out as retaining value,” said Kenneth Akintewe, a Singapore-based bond fund manager who helps manage $5 billion in Asian fixed income at Aberdeen.

Global stocks rose on Thursday as a blockbuster General Motors Co stock offering dovetailed with upbeat U.S. economic data and easing Irish debt tensions.

GM’s return to the market less than 18 months after it emerged from bankruptcy, raised $20.1 billion, the largest U.S. initial public offering.

The Dow Jones industrial average  rose 1.6 percent on Thursday. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index  gained 1.5 percent and the Nasdaq Composite Index . added 1.6 percent.