Tokyo: Markets extended gains on Tuesday with investors hunting for bargains after prices reclaimed some groud off 2012 lows, as hopes grew that Europe would embark on fresh action to tackle its debt crisis while promoting growth.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan climbed 1.2%, having recovered the previous day from a plunge to a 2012 low on Friday.
Its top performers included the technology, industrials and materials sectors, all of which had been battered in recent sessions by fears over Greece’s departure from the euro bloc and global growth slowdown.
Australian shares gained 0.9% as investors picked up miners and mining services companies on expectations China will undertake further stimulus as it makes maintaining expansion a priority.
“Last week was quite brutal in terms of the selling ... Was that totally necessary?,” said Martin Angel, a dealer at Patersons Securities, adding that BHP, Rio Tinto and gold miners had been hit too hard. “I reckon there’s good opportunities to pick them up while they’re at these levels.”
Seoul shares rose back above the key technical chart level of 1,800 points as investors saw value in battered blue-chip technology shares such as Samsung Electronics .
Bargan hunters also lifted Japan’s Nikkei stock average 1%.
“Things are no better in Europe or China, but the current situation has been priced in, and now it’s just short-covering,” said Fumiyuki Nakanishi, general manager of investment and research at SMBC Friend Securities.
Copper, which fell to a four-month low below $7,500 a tonne last week, climbed 0.8% to $7,790 a tonne on Tuesday.
Xstrata, the world’s fourth-largest copper miner, said on Tuesday Chinese demand for copper was likely to improve in the second half, coming amid some cautious remarks about the outlook of commodities markets.
Markets are sensitive to demand and growth prospects in China, the world’s leading consumer of materials and second-largest economy, as the financial crisis weighs on European growth while the United States continues to show mixed signals.
A Chinese media report said on Tuesday the Chinese government will fast track its approval of infrastructure investments to combat slowing growth and a sluggish property sector.
Evidence that strictly abiding by austerity measures to fix the euro zone’s debt restructuring has only compounded the situation prompted leaders of the G8 major industrialised nations to call for promoting growth.
Markets are keeping watch on a European Union summit on Wednesday intended to focus on specific steps to spur growth and create jobs across the bloc.
Optimism Escapes Euro
Despite the general improvement in market sentiment, the euro struggled to hold above $1.28, easing 0.2% to $1.2787 on Tuesday. It hit a four-month low of $1.2642 on Friday when concerns about Greece exiting the euro were compounded by mounting banking stress in Spain.
“Talk about growth is fine. But it comes down to question of who will shoulder the bill for it. Unless it becomes clear, the fog on the euro zone won’t disappear,” said Katsunori Kitakura, associate general manager at Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Bank.
Market gauges showed players remain guarded against funding stresses, with the three-month spread between Libor rates and overnight index swap rates holding steady at around 30 basis points over the past two months, after shrinking from 55 basis points.
But appetite for the yen, widely seen as a safe-haven currency, retreated slightly, with the currency trading away from its three-month high near ¥79 hit on Friday. The yen stood at ¥79.38 on Tuesday.
“The last 12 hours has given us the first signs of a meaningful correction in FX,” said ANZ in a research note. “It’s impossible, quite frankly, to know whether this is The turn, or just a correction. At the very least, however, we wouldn’t be fighting it yet,” it said, adding the key was the EU summit.
Given that market sentiment had turned extremely bearish on the Greek political turmoil, if the EU meeting at the very least indicates a shift in approach to the euro zone crisis, the correction in currencies will likely extend a bit, it said.
At Wednesday’s informal EU meeting, France’s new president, Francois Hollande, is likely to propose mutualising European debt.
The idea of bonds jointly underwritten by all euro zone member states could fend off contagion of funding difficulties from troubled euro zone economies, but Germany remains opposed.
US crude futures held steady at $92.53 a barrel on Tuesday, after adding 1.19% the day before. Brent rose 0.1% to $108.93 a barrel after gaining for the first time in four sessions on Monday and settled up 1.56%.
Asian credit markets firmed on Tuesday, with the spread on the iTraxx Asia ex-Japan investment-grade index narrowing by six basis points.