Asian markets surge on back of strong US data

Asian markets surge on back of strong US data

Tokyo: Asian shares rose on Monday after Greece requested emergency aid and as a raft of US data showed its economic recovery was gathering strength.

Greece’s finance minister said on Sunday aid from the European Union and International Monetary Fund would arrive in time to avert what would be the euro zone’s first sovereign debt default, though there were growing signs that a €45 billion ($60 billion) rescue package would have to be bigger.

The MSCI Index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose around 1.2%. The index is up more than 4% so far this year.

Japan’s Nikkei jumped 2.3% as worries about Greece receded and companies such as copier and printer firms benefited after strong earnings from US peers.

Monday’s rally marked the biggest daily percentage gain since late February and saw the Nikkei recoup last week’s 1.7% fall.

“There does seem to be a lessening in risk aversion after Wall Street’s performance on Friday, but whether this is sustainable remains to be seen," said Nagayuki Yamagishi, a strategist at Mitsubishi UFJ SecuritiesCo. Ltd. “It appears that Greece is getting aid, but whether this is the ultimate solution is a big question. Also, investors may be reluctant to buy the Nikkei much ahead of results later this week."

US data on Friday also underscored that the world’s largest economy was continuing to gather strength, buoying investor sentiment. New US home sales rose at their fastest pace in 47 years in March and new orders for durable goods grew strongly, helping US stocks to a 19-month high.

Hong Kong shares gained 1.6% as investors scooped up battered property developers.

Shanghai stocks, however, lost 0.5%, closing at the lowest in more than two months, weighed down by banking and property stocks as investors reacted to Beijing’s moves to cool the real estate market. The index extended a near 5% drop last week, the largest weekly fall in five months after the announcement of measures to rein in property speculation.

Shares in South Korea ended up 0.9% at a new 22-month closing high, fuelled by gains in key blue-chip exporters and banking issues.

Taiwan stocks had their best one-day percentage gain in almost six weeks, closing up 1.9%, boosted by hopes a key free trade pact with China was closer to being signed following comments by Taiwan’s President. Shares in Singapore gained less than 0.l5%.

Kaori Kaneko and Elaine Lies contributed to this story.