Dec 7, 2012

Hong Kong - Asian markets extend gains, euro rebounds

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HONG KONG: Asian markets climbed Friday, following a positive lead from Wall Street, while the euro retraced some of its losses made in New York after the ECB cut its growth forecast for the eurozone.

Tokyo rose 0.28 per cent, Hong Kong gained 0.17 per cent, Sydney added 0.96 per cent and Shanghai was 0.30 per cent higher, while Seoul put on 0.58 per cent.

Shares in New York provided a bright start to the day as data showed that jobless claims in the United States fell last week after three weeks of higher figures caused by superstorm Sandy.

Initial claims for unemployment insurance in the week to December 1 dropped from 395,000 the previous week and well over 400,000 in the two weeks before.

The news bodes well ahead of the release later Friday of key non-farm payrolls data.

On Wall Street the Dow closed 0.30 per cent higher, the S&P 500 added 0.33 per cent and the Nasdaq gained 0.52 per cent.

In Tokyo, the euro rose as dealers moved back into buying mode after it suffered a big fall in New York late Thursday on news the European Central Bank had tipped the eurozone economy shrink 0.3 per cent in 2013. It had previously forecast 0.5 per cent growth.

The bank also hinted that it might be moving toward cutting its benchmark rate, despite holding firm on Thursday.

The single currency was quoted at $1.2972 in early Asian trade, from $1.2969 in New York late Thursday, and 107.05 yen from 106.86 yen.

However, it is still well down from the $1.3055 and 107.69 yen in Asia earlier on Thursday.

The dollar was at 82.50 yen in Asia, from 82.37 yen in New York.

In Hong Kong insurance firm PICC jumped more than three per cent on its trading debut after raising $3.1 billion in an initial public offering, making it the city's biggest listing this year.

Shanghai also continued its rebound after hitting a near four-year low on Monday, with traders hoping the mainland government will introduce a fresh round of measures to support the world's number two economy.

On oil markets New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in December, gained 22 cents to $86.48 a barrel and Brent North Sea crude for December delivery added 19 cents to $107.22.

Gold was at $1,703.70 at 0230 GMT compared with $1,693.03 late on Thursday.

- AFP/ck

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