Asian stock markets rise after Wall Street bounces back, oil stabilizes

TOKYO – Asian stocks extended gains Friday after other global markets bounced back from a rocky start to the year and oil prices stabilized after dramatic plunges.

KEEPING SCORE: Japan’s Nikkei 225 stock average rose 0.5 per cent to 17,255.33 and South Korea’s Kospi added 1.2 per cent to 1,927.81. Sydney’s S&P/ASX 200 rose 1.3 per cent to 5,452.80. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng gained 1.1 per cent to 24,106.03. Markets in China, Southeast Asia and India also rose.

JOBS OUTLOOK: Markets are waiting for monthly U.S. employment figures due to be released later in the day, as a sign not only of the American economy’s health but also as an indicator of when the Federal Reserve might start raising interest rates. Economists forecast that the government report Friday will show that U.S. employers added 243,000 jobs last month.

EUROPE WATCH: Global markets have been swayed by prospects for the European economy lately. With recent economic indicators looking grim, many analysts expect the European Central Bank to follow the Bank of Japan with quantitative easing in the near future. The super easy monetary policy is designed to hold down long-term interest rates and stimulate borrowing and spending.

ENERGY: U.S. crude oil gained 41 cents to $49.20 a barrel. A big fall in the price of oil earlier in the week had sparked a big sell off in global stock markets. The price of the commodity has fallen by more than half since June last year as traders try to price in a glut of supply due to increased production.

THE QUOTE: “Cheer was ostensibly from oil stabilization,” said Mizuho Bank in a commentary. “Apart from direct relief for commodities, the propensity to guard against possibly contagious sell-off in equities abated too. Growing hopes of QE-type ECB stimulus though was the larger catalyst for exuberance.”

FAST RISE: Shares of Fast Retailing, the company behind the Uniqlo retail chain, rose 3 per cent in Tokyo after it reported a big jump in quarterly profit. “Rising American stocks are one factor, but the earnings of Fast Retailing are also helping” the Tokyo market said Yosuke Shimizu, analyst at ArgoNavis.

WALL STREET: The Standard & Poor’s 500 climbed 36.24 points Thursday, or 1.8 per cent, to 2,062.14. The index is now up 0.2 per cent for the year, after falling 2.7 per cent in the first three days of trading. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 323.35 points, or 1.8 per cent, to 17,907.87. The Nasdaq composite gained 85.72 points, or 1.8 per cent, to 4,736.19.

CURRENCIES: The euro rose to $1.1806 from $1.1792 the previous day. The dollar fell to 119.53 yen from 119.80 yen.


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