Asia stocks mostly up on US, China data

Associated Press

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Asian stock markets advanced Friday as a batch of upbeat economic data from the U.S. and China and overnight gains on Wall Street bolstered investor sentiment.

The latest data from the world's two largest economies showed a recovery in China's manufacturing sector and growing confidence among American consumers. The reports fanned hope that the global economy may emerge out of the recent slumber and put itself back on track to recovery early next year.

Japan's Nikkei 225 index advanced 1.1 percent to 9,048.23. Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 1.3 percent to 22,099.82 and South Korea's Kospi gained 1 percent to 1,917.20. Australia's S&P/ASX200 inched up 0.2 percent to 4,465.80. Benchmark indices in Singapore and Taiwan rose but mainland Chinese shares fell.

"New York Stock Exchange, Dow Jones rose more than 100 points overnight on better-than-expected job figures," said Francis Lun, managing director of Lyncean Holdings in Hong Kong, who added that the "inflow of hot money continued into Asia and it is this huge amount of hot money that's driving up the Asian markets."

In Japan, Sony Corp. gained 2.8 percent. The maker of Bravia TVs and PlayStation 3 game machines reported after the market closed on Thursday a smaller loss for the fiscal second quarter over a year earlier on a sales recovery and restructuring efforts. But Sharp Corp., another Japanese electronics maker, sank 4.7 percent after registering a dismal loss in the fiscal first half.

South Korean exporters gained ground with tech heavyweight Samsung Electronics Co. adding 2.5 percent and its smaller rival LG Display Co. up 4.1 percent.

"Expectations for a turnaround of China's economy and the continued strength of the Asian currencies are driving the inflow of hot money into Asia," Xu Hui, a Seoul-based emerging market analyst at Korea Investment & Securities said. "The rise of Hong Kong dollar might stabilize but investors expect that the Japanese yen will continue its rise."

Data from the U.S. Institute for Supply Management showed that American factories saw increased orders and more production last month, posting growth for two straight months.

The Conference Board further emboldened investor sentiment after saying that Americans' confidence in the economy surged in October to a nearly five-year high, largely encouraged by an improved job market. Earnings reports from retailers and automakers including Chrysler were also solid.

The data that showed crucial players in the economic recovery are gaining confidence added to the upbeat report that China's economy is improving. China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing's monthly purchasing managers' index showed earlier this week that the world's No. 2 economy saw an improvement in manufacturing last month.

Wall Street ended its second trading day this week on a higher note after Hurricane Sandy disrupted U.S. trading on Monday and Tuesday. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 1 percent to close at 13,232.62. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 1.1 percent to 1,427.59. The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite index finished up 1.4 percent at 3,020.06.

Investors are awaiting an October jobs report from the U.S. Labor Department later in the day.

Benchmark oil for December delivery fell 28 cents to $86.81 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract gained 85 cents Thursday to finish at $87.09 per barrel in New York.

In currencies, the euro fell to $1.2936 from $1.2939. The dollar rose to 80.22 yen from 80.18 yen.


AP Business Writer Kelvin Chan in Hong Kong contributed to this report.