Asian markets rise towards a two-month peak

Asian markets rise towards a two-month peak

Tokyo: Asian shares inched back towards recent two-month highs on Tuesday as recovering commodity prices boosted shares of resource firms and as tech stocks drew support from gains in their US peers.

The euro fell against the dollar on Tuesday as wrangling among European Union leaders over possible support for Greece continued in the run-up to a summit later this week.

European stocks broke a three-session losing run, tracking gains on Wall Street, where the passage of a fiercely debated healthcare reform bill ended some uncertainty hanging over markets and prompted investors to return cautiously to riskier assets.

But gains were likely to be limited as investors awaited key US housing data later in the day for clues on the state of the US recovery, which is key to a sustained global rebound from the worst financial crisis in generations.

Housing market weakness and high unemployment have been a persistent drag on the world’s largest economy, in sharp contrast to a rapid recovery in Asia which has seen foreign investors flocking to the region’s stocks, bonds and currencies.

“Market players are feeling a sense of reassurance about economic conditions, which look strong especially in emerging market countries," said Mitsushige Akino, chief fund manager at Ichiyoshi Investment Management in Japan. “So stocks that have exposure to such markets are on solid footing," Akino said.

The MSCI index of Asia Pacific stocks outside Japan rose about half a percent to 418, clawing toward a two-month peak of 422.64 hit last week and putting the regional gauge back in positive territory for the year so far.

Mining and oil company shares rose as commodities prices stabilised after losing ground on Tuesday. Global miner BHP Billiton climbed 1.1% in Australia while Chinese oil producer CNOOC rose about half as much.

Tech shares were also strong gainers across much of the region, with expectations of stronger consumer demand for flat screen TVs and other gadgets boosting major producers such as Samsung Electronics, which rose 1%.

Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 average bucked the broader trend, however, slipping half a percent as recent gainers such as Canon lost steam and as investors cautiously watched moves in the yen.

Among the major regional stock markets, Sydney led with a 0.9% jump followed by a gain of 0.6% in both Seoul and Singapore.

Mumbai rose a shade, while Taipei fell 0.3%.