by Danny McCord
Hong Kong, May 2, 2012 (AFP) – Asian stock markets climbed on Wednesday after strong manufacturing data from the United States and China boosted optimism over the state of the world’s two biggest economies.
The dollar rebounded after hitting a two-month low against the yen while the Dow rallied to its best close for more than four years.
Tokyo rose 0.31 percent, or 29.30 points, to 9,380.25 and Seoul climbed 0.86 percent, adding 17.08 points to 1,999.07 while Sydney closed 0.14 percent, or 6.4 points, higher at 4,435.9.
Hong Kong was 1.02 percent higher, gaining 214.87 points to 21,309.08 while Shanghai climbed 1.76 percent, or 42.12 points, 2,438.44
The mood was upbeat on the back of Wall Street’s strong lead after the US Institute for Supply Management said its manufacturing index rose for the second straight month in April, to 54.8 percent, from 53.4 in March. Analysts had forecast the reading would fall to 53.0.
Any reading above 50 is considered growth while a reading below indicates contraction.
“The better-than-expected manufacturing figures come after a series of disappointing data and the surprise among investors is evident across commodities and risk assets,” said Justin Harper, Singapore-based strategist at IG Markets, in a note.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped 0.50 percent to close at 13,279.32, its highest since late 2007, while the S&P 500 gained 0.57 percent to 1,405.88 and the tech-heavy Nasdaq climbed 0.13 percent.
The news from Washington followed official figures from China showing manufacturing activity rose in April to a 13-month high, lifting hopes the Asian giant’s economy may have bottomed out in the second quarter.
The official purchasing managers’ index (PMI) rose to 53.3 from 53.1 in March, its fifth consecutive month of expansion, the China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing said.
And on Wednesday HSBC said its China PMI contracted for the sixth straight month in April but at a much slower pace and not as much as preliminary figures suggested.
The results provided some relief to investors after a string of weak figures from Beijing and Washington in recent months.
Eyes will now be on the United States for the latest batch of employment data due out later this week, with traders looking for clues on the state of the economy.
On foreign exchange markets the dollar edged up against the yen after slipping to 79.73 yen in Asia Tuesday — its lowest level in more than two months.
It was changing hands at 80.40 yen in late afternoon Tokyo trade Wednesday, compared with 80.13 yen late Tuesday in New York.
The euro bought $1.3200 and 106.01 yen against $1.3234 and 106.05 yen in New York.
Oil slipped, with New York’s main contract, West Texas Intermediate crude for delivery in June, down 17 cents at $105.99 per barrel while Brent North Sea crude for June shed four cents to $119.62.
Gold was at $1,652.37 an ounce at 0830 GMT.
In other markets:
– Taipei climbed 2.33 percent, or 175.09 points, to 7,676.81.
Leading smartphone maker HTC rose 6.66 percent to Tw$472.5 while Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co was 1.84 percent higher at Tw$88.4.
– Manila rose 0.50 percent, or 26.14 points, to 5,228.84.
Alliance Global Group gained 5.17 percent to 13 pesos and Universal Robina was up 3.07 percent at 67 pesos but Bloomberry Resorts slumped 24.9 percent to 9.01 pesos.
– Wellington rose 1.05 percent, or 37.65 points, to 3,614.97.
Contact Energy climbed 1.65 percent to NZ$4.93 and Fletcher Building jumped 2.20 percent to NZ$6.50 while Telecom was unchanged at NZ$2.6
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