New York: Japanese shares surged nearly 4% on Thursday, with investors heartened by Wall Street’s best performance in nine years after the White House said Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell would not be fired. Asian markets followed Tokyo’s lead with most showing gains, giving some welcome relief from a lingering global market downturn. Singapore was up 1.4% in afternoon trade, Taiwan gained 1.7% and Bangkok rose 0.8%. Sydney closed up 1.9%.

Chinese markets slid after the release of weak economic data, showing that profits in the industrial sector declined 1.8% in November. Hong Kong closed down 0.7% while Shanghai closed down 0.6%.

“Thankfully for investors, the relentless selling on the back of risk-off sentiment which prevailed leading up to Christmas has mercifully halted... with the Dow surging over 1,000 points while adding the most significant points gain in history," said Stephen Innes, head of APAC trading at OANDA.

Wall Street stocks roared back to life in post-Christmas trade on Wednesday, shaking off four straight routs following strong retail sales data and White House reassurances that Powell would not be fired. Sentiment also improved after a Bloomberg News report said a US government delegation would travel to Beijing in early January to hold trade talks, the first face-to-face discussion since US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed on a 90-day trade war truce.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished up nearly 1,100 points, or about 5%, with the broad-based S&P 500 also surging 5%.

“It was possible that risk appetite wouldn’t recover until after the new year but thanks to the upturns in Tokyo and New York, we are likely to see the new year in with a somewhat brighter mood," Mizuho Securities said in a note.

Many global investors have been unnerved by a variety of factors, including the partial US government shutdown, the US-China trade war and Trump’s ongoing criticism of Fed Chair Powell.

But while a sense of relief won out for now, analysts warned that there was still much uncertainty in the market.

“Don’t get too comfortable as discussions regarding the various political and policy questions remain hanging in the balance," said Innes.

US stock-index futures fell as much as 0.7% on Thursday, suggesting investors are unlikely to sustain Wednesday’s rally when US markets open.

Kyle Rodda, a Melbourne-based market analyst at IG Group Holdings Plc, told Bloomberg News investors “are still nervous about how financial markets and the global economy will go during a cyclical slowdown without central bank support".

The euro remained weak against the dollar after falling in New York.

Mizuho Bank said: “Many market players expect the dollar would likely drop against the yen early next year as factors that could fuel risk aversion or prompt dollar selling are lining up."

They include risks of a no-deal Brexit, the February 28 deadline for the Trump administration in trade talks with China and chances that the Federal Reserve would pass on a rate hike expected in March, it said.

Meanwhile, oil markets lost some of their gains as crude prices slid on Thursday, after jumping nearly nine percent Wednesday to mark the biggest gain in more than two years.

Gold has also been soaring and was set for its biggest monthly gain in almost two years, with investors seeking safe havens amid the partial US government shutdown and concerns about the global political and economic outlook. In early European trading on Thursday, London and Paris opened up 0.4 and 1.4% respectively, while Frankfurt fell nearly 0.3% after the holiday break.

This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text.

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