Asian markets mostly gained on Thursday, with higher oil prices broadly supporting the energy sector and Japanese shares getting an extra lift from a weaker yen.
Japan’s Nikkei Stock Average JP:100000018 +1.55 percent jumped 1.2 percent and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 index AU:XJO +0.62 percent rose 0.5 percent and the Hang Seng Index HK:HSI +0.32 percent rose 0.3%.
CN:000001 -0.08 percent South Korea’s Kospi KR:SEU -0.04 percent edged down 0.3 percent as investors played catch-up with the rest of the region’s performance on Wednesday. The Shanghai Composite index CN:000001 -0.08 percent lost 0.1%, with foreign direct investment in July contracting 8.7 percent from a year earlier.
Morgan Stanley’s cross-asset strategy team said the recent broad rise in risk assets and decline in volatility “is either (northern) summer ennui or investor hope for central bank action.”
“We doubt this disconnect can persist. With September littered with risk events – and, in our view, potential disappointments (for example, from the Federal Reserve) – we think that the risk rally is in its final stage,” they said.
US stocks ended mostly higher on Wednesday, aided by stronger industrial production data for July and a rise in a housing market confidence indicator to its best level for more than five years. Read more on US stocks.
The better tone of US economic data over the past two weeks has led some Federal Reserve watchers to doubt that the US central bank will launch another massive bond buying programme next month. Read more on Fed easing expectations.
Still, the US data helped support the dollar against the yen, with the Japanese currency falling to a one-month low on Wednesday as US Treasury bond yields climbed to levels not seen since May. Read more on currencies.
Japanese exporters got a boost on currency moves, with car makers particularly strong. Honda Motor Co. JP:7267 +2.38 percent HMC +0.47 percent shares were up 1%, Toyota Motor Corp. JP:7203 +2.54 percent TM -0.16 percent jumped 1.8 percent and Mazda Motor Corp. JP:7261 +3.26 percent MZDAF -3.58 percent advanced 3.3%.
Other exporters climbing in Japan included Sony Corp. JP:6758 +3.48 percent SNE -2.73 percent up 2.1 percent and Canon Inc. JP:7751 +2.23 percent CAJ +0.32%, up 1.4%. Sharp Corp. JP:6753 +4.73 percent SHCAF -6.88 percent managed to pare some recent losses with a 1.2 percent gain.
Hong Kong saw a sharp gain for shares in internet firm Tencent Holdings Ltd HK:700 +5.91 percent TCEHY +1.83%, which jumped 3.7 percent after reporting a 32 percent rise in second-quarter net profit following an increase in advertising revenue.
Energy-sector companies were advancing across Asia, after benchmark Nymex crude futures hit a three-month settlement high in New York on Wednesday. Read more on oil.
Cnooc Ltd HK:883 +0.65 percent CEO -0.10 percent shares rose 0.9 percent in Hong Kong. JX Holdings Inc. JP:5020 +2.46 percent JXHGF -17.17 percent advanced 3 percent and Inpex Corp. JP:1605 +1.48 percent IPXHY -0.54 percent climbed 1.5 percent in Japan. Kukdong Oil and Chemical advanced 4.5 percent in South Korea.
Woodside Petroleum Ltd AU:WPL +0.99 percent WOPEF +1.87 percent rose 1.1 percent and Beach Energy Ltd AU:BPT +1.28 percent BCHEY 0.00 percent climbed 1 percent in Sydney.
Earnings were also helping to support the Australian market, with AMP Ltd AU:AMP +4.33 percent AMLTF -3.49 percent up 3.5 percent after the wealth manager said its first-half net profit rose 10 per cent, boosted by its purchase of AXA Asia Pacific’s Australian and New Zealand operations. -By Sarah Turner