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Asian stocks set for first weekly gains in two months

Asian stocks set for first weekly gains in two months
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First Published: Fri, Jun 24 2011. 11 45 AM IST
Updated: Fri, Jun 24 2011. 11 45 AM IST
Hong Kong: Asian equities are poised for their first weekly gains in nine weeks and the euro advanced from early lows on Friday, though the currency’s gains could be short lived as many see Greece’s deal with international lenders as a short-term fix for a long-term crisis.
Still, the deal offerred investors a rare piece of good news in a period filled with gloomy economic data.
Bond prices gained and the US dollar is on course for its third straight week of strengthening against a basket of currencies as broader sentiment remains fragile after the US Federal Reserve cut its forecasts for growth this year and data showed Chinese factory growth virtually stalled in June.
Adding to the worries of a slowing global economy, crude oil plunged to a four-month low after the world’s top consumers late Thursday unexpectedly released emergency oil reserves for the third time in history, prior to the Greek news offered some support to nervous markets.
The debt-ridden European nation reached an agreement with EU and IMF leaders on additional tax hikes and spending cuts to plug a €3.8 billion funding gap, paving the way for the disbursal of a much needed aid package in July.
“Although the effect from the Greece news may be temporary, investors are relieved,” said Yumi Nishimura, a senior market analyst at Daiwa Securities.
Brent crude rebounded from the four-month low below $106, rising nearly a dollar to above $108 per barrel. US crude rose to near $92 a barrel.
The latest move from the International Energy Agency has had a muted impact on energy counters with oil prices already more than 20% off their early May peaks.
On StarMine, the Asia ex-Japan forward 12-month EPS on the energy sector is now just 10.9% - the second lowest of any sector and below the overall 11.5%.
CONSERVATIVE POSITIONS
In equities, Japan’s Nikkei and Korea’s were up by 0.6% and 1.1% respectively. Shares in Hong Kong climbed 1.5% on expectations that inflation may have peaked.
The MSCI index of Asia Pacific stocks outside Japan rose 0.8% with buying concentrated in financial and consumer durable counters.
Even though it is poised to rise one% for the week, snapping an eight-week losing streak, underlying flows data painted a more conservative picture.
High yield bond outflows intensified in the week to June 22 with investors pulling a record net $3.43 billion out of high yield bond funds, rotating cash into the relative safety of higher quality fixed income investments, Thomson Reuters Lipper data showed on Thursday.
Emerging market equity funds registered outflows, notching up their worst performance since the first week of March.
In currency markets, the euro edged higher after hitting a trough of $1.4125 on Thursday, though the underlying trend remained bearish. The single currency is down more than five% from a two-year peak of nearly 1.495 hit in early May.
“Part of the reason the euro’s bounce was so fast (on Thursday) was probably because there was some position unwinding ahead of the weekend,” says Tsutomu Soma, senior manager for Okasan Securities’ foreign securities department.
Markets still remain wary of a default with the cost of insuring Greek sovereign debt near record highs while spreads in other European countries like Portugal and Ireland too rising.
Bonds rose. Ten-year US Treasury note yields hovered around 2.94%, within striking distance of a six-month low hit last week while Japanese bond yields tumbled to a seven month low.
Spot gold steadied around $1520 per ounce after falling two% in the previous session while silver held above the $35.10 an ounce line.
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First Published: Fri, Jun 24 2011. 11 45 AM IST
More Topics: Markets | Asia | Nikkei | Hang Seng | Stocks |