Hong Kong: Asian stocks were mostly higher on Monday as news of fewer job losses in the US gave investors more confidence the world’s largest economy was headed toward recovery.
Gains across most of the region added to a two-month rally that’s showing few signs of abating as expectations grow for an end to the global slump by year’s end. Asian bank shares rose after their struggling US peers advanced Friday amid relief over the government’s “stress tests,” while the dollar climbed against the yen. Oil prices, moderately lower, were still trading near this year’s peak.
The latest dose of less dreary news came from a key monthly job report showing US employers axed 539,000 jobs last month. It was the lowest in six months and far fewer than forecast, feeding a theme of recovery that has emboldened bullish investors of late.
While many analysts say recent improvements in the economy may not justify the swift rise in equity prices, hot money flowing from mutual funds and other big investors could put off any correction in the market for weeks or months.
“I wouldn’t say things are getting better, but they are getting less worse. We are starting to see some stabilization,” said Andrew Orchard, Asia strategist for Royal Bank of Scotland in Hong Kong. “The concerns long-term are we may overshoot and predict a recovery too quickly.”
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng climbed 289.20, or 1.7%, to 17,679.07, and South Korea’s Kospi was 0.3% higher at 1,415.99.
Japan recouped losses to edge higher, with the Nikkei up 10.62 points, or 0.1%, at 9443.45. Weighing on the broader market were automakers after Toyota reported its worst-ever annual loss and forecast an even bigger losses this year. Toyota shares were down 4.8%.
Elsewhere, Taiwan and Indian benchmarks rose, while those in Shanghai and Australia were modestly lower.
In New York on Friday, investors consoled by the government’s bank tests and the jobs report sent the Dow up 164.80 points, or 2%, to 8,574.65. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 21.84, or 2.4%, to 929.23, and the Nasdaq composite index rose 22.76, or 1.3%, to 1,739.00.
Wall Street looked to give back some of its gains after US futures fell. Dow futures were down 46 points, or 0.5%, to 8,470, while S&P futures were down 5.7 points, or 0.6%, to 919.
Oil prices were lower in Asia trade after charging higher last week, with benchmark crude for June delivery down 38 cents to $58.25. On Friday, the contract rose $1.92 to settle at $58.63 a barrel, the highest level this year.