Hong Kong: Asia-Pacific stocks closed mostly up on Monday, shrugging off a rise in US unemployment that heightened fears the world’s biggest economy, a key buyer of Asian exports, faces recession.
Chinese stocks staged the session’s best performance, surging more than 4% amid investor hopes that mainland shares are through the worst after sliding precipitously from a peak last year.
Japan, the region’s biggest stock market, rose more than 1%, as did Hong Kong and Taiwan stock indices.
India’s main stock index, Sensex, rallied 2.7% to close at 15,757.08, bouncing back from a slide last week triggered by worries over high inflation.
Other key bourses also ended in the black, including those in Australia, South Korea and Singapore, although their gains were more modest.
The generally positive performance in Asia came despite poor employment data from the US last week.
US employers cut a surprisingly large 80,000 jobs in March, the biggest decline in employment in five years, a government report showed on Friday in another ominous sign for the economy.
The mounting job losses swelled the US unemployment rate to 5.1% last month compared with 4.8% in February.
In Japan, the benchmark Nikkei-225 index climbed 157.01 points to end the day at 13,450.23 while the broader Topix index of all first-section shares gained 16.69 points or 1.29 percent to 1,305.63.
Stocks opened lower, hurt by the US job data. But they rebounded, helped by a weaker yen and a firm performance by other Asian bourses.
“Buying was stronger than expected, even after the very weak jobs data,” said Fumiyuki Nakanishi, chief strategist at SMBC Friend Securities. “I think a big reason was that worries about the financial markets are easing.”
In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index gained 314.13 points to 24,578.76.
Dealers said the index should face resistance at the 25,000-point level.
Kenny Tang, research head at Tung Tai Securities, said the market “sustained last week’s momentum, with China-related stocks outperforming on the back of a continued rebound on (mainland) markets.” Tang said concerns are also easing over the US subprime crisis.
“Investors believe that the worst has passed,” he said.
In Australia, shares closed up 0.1%, dealers said. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index closed 5.4 points higher at 5,625, while the broader All Ordinaries index was up 20.4 points at 5,684.1.
The Chinese benchmark, Shanghai Composite index, closed up 153.37 points at 3,599.62.
“The market rebounded technically after shares had been seriously oversold, with blue-chips also bolstered by some new stock funds which are building their positions,” said Cao Yan, an analyst at Soochow Securities.
“There is talk that the market has reached the bottom,” said Wang Sai, an analyst at Wanguo Consulting.
Taiwanese shares closed up 1.55%, dealers said. President-elect Ma Ying-jeou, who takes power on 20 May, has pledged to improve relations between Taiwan and mainland China.
“The local bourse was a laggard behind major international markets last week and hopes for better cross-strait relations encouraged buying into the domestic market today,” said Michael Hsu, an assistant vice-president at Taiwan Life Asset Management.
South Korean share prices closed 0.4% higher with the KOSPI index at 1,773.56 points.
“The sentiment in global financial markets has become increasingly stable and local market investors are welcoming it as signs of confidence being restored,” said Park Seok-hyun, an analyst at Eugene Investment Securities.
South Korea’s general election is on Wednesday. Investors are hoping that the ruling party will win a parliamentary majority because that will mean strong support for President Lee Myung-Bak’s projects to boost the economy.
In Singapore, the blue-chip Straits Times Index closed 26.36 points higher at 3,181.92.
In Malaysia, shares ended marginally down, with the Kuala Lumpur Composite Index falling 0.1% at 1,221.07.
Dealers said domestic political uncertainty, with prime minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi battling his biggest leadership crisis after recent disastrous poll losses, had dampened investor sentiment.