Asian markets rise on upbeat China trade data
HONG KONG (AFP) – Asian markets climbed on Thursday after China released better-than-expected trade data that provide further evidence the world’s number two economy has emerged from a drawn-out slumber.
The Nikkei in Japan was also boosted by the continued weakness of the yen, while a rally on Wall Street capped a two-day losing streak and provided extra impetus to Asian buyers.
Tokyo closed up 0.70 per cent, or 74.07 points, at 10,652.64 while Sydney gained 0.32 per cent, or 14.9 points, to end at 4,723.0 and Seoul climbed 0.75 per cent, or 14.99 points, to 2,006.80.
Hong Kong jumped 0.59 per cent, or 135.84 points, to 23,354.31 and Shanghai closed up 0.37 per cent, or 8.32 points, at 2,283.66.
“The (Shanghai) market may head further north as the upward trend since December remains intact with a continued improvement in economic indicators,” China Minzu Securities analyst Chen Wei told Dow Jones Newswires.
China said its trade surplus surged 48.1 percent to $231.1 billion in 2012 from the previous year, helped by a 7.9 per cent rise in exports to $2.05 trillion, while imports increased 4.3 per cent $1.82 trillion.
However, the trade volume, the total of exports and imports, grew 6.2 per cent, below the government target of about 10 per cent.
Customs bureau spokesman Zheng Yuesheng said last year’s performance came “despite a sharply slowing world economic recovery, weak international market demand and rather big downside pressure on the domestic economy”.
The figures are the latest in a string of data in recent months that indicate the world’s second biggest economy has finally turned a corner after seven straight quarters of slowing growth.
Beijing’s export-driven economy has been buffeted by the long-running debt crisis in Europe and ongoing uncertainty in the United States, both crucial markets for China’s products.
The trade figures are the first of a batch of indicators from Beijing, with inflation results due Friday and closely watched gross domestic product figures expected on Sunday.
“We are seeing assets pick up across the board… after encouraging data with better-than-expected trade numbers from China,” said Jason Hughes, the head of premium client management at IG Markets in Singapore.
In Tokyo, exporters were higher owing to the weaker yen, spurred by expectations for fresh monetary easing by the Bank of Japan as well as promises by the new government to boost spending.
New Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who was elected last month, on Wednesday reiterated his call for BoJ governor Masaaki Shirakawa to introduce a two percent inflation target ahead of the bank’s upcoming policy meeting.