Business News

Asian Stocks Advance as Oil Rebounds to $40; Won Gains 

Published Apr 19th 2016, 8:50 am
Asian equities rose, following U.S. stocks higher, as crude oil climbed for the first time in five days. South Korea’s won strengthened before a central bank policy meeting and New Zealand’s dollar advanced to a 10-month high.The MSCI Asia Pacific Index climbed to near a four-month high as Japan’s Topix jumped 3 percent. Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index were little changed, after the gauge posted its highest close since Dec. 1, and contracts tied to Hong Kong and China equities advanced. Crude traded near $40 a barrel in New York, supported by a labor strike in Kuwait, after sliding as low as $37.61 on Monday. The rebound in oil prices boosted commodity-linked currencies including the Kiwi.
While the failure of large oil producers to agree to an output freeze at weekend talks in Doha initially sent crude lower Monday, losses were limited by Kuwait’s strike and speculation that China’s slowdown is easing. New York Fed President William Dudley added to confidence in the U.S. economy with comments that suggest inflation will firm, while Boston Fed President Eric Rosengren said he and many private-sector economists envision a “much healthier U.S. economy” than what’s implied by financial markets.
“Markets reversed much of the post Doha price action in energy and currencies,” analysts at Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd., including Sydney-based Jo Masters, wrote in a report. “Sentiment was also supported by positive comments on the U.S. and European outlook by the Fed’s Dudley and improved U.S. corporate earnings.”
While acknowledging a slowdown in the first quarter, Rosengren said he expected growth in the U.S. to pick up in the second quarter and employers to continue adding jobs. He’s a voter on the policy-setting Federal Open Market Committee, which is scheduled to gather in Washington on April 26-27 to set the benchmark federal funds rate. South Korea’s central bank will keep its key rate at 1.5 percent at a review on Tuesday, according to 17 of 20 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. Three forecast a cut.
Stocks
All 30 industry groups on the Topix were up more than 1 percent as of 9:20 a.m. Tokyo time. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index added 1.3 percent, led by a 4.8 percent surge in BHP Billiton Ltd.
Futures on Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index gained 1.1 percent, while contracts on the FTSE China A50 Index were up 0.7 percent in Singapore.
Currencies
The New Zealand dollar climbed 0.4 percent to 69.75 U.S. cents, after touching a 10-month high of 69.93. The Australian currency traded as high as 77.78 U.S. cents, its strongest level since June.
The ringgit climbed 0.5 percent as the rebound in crude prices brightened prospects for Malaysia, Asia’s only major net oil exporter. South Korea’s won also rose 0.5 percent.
The euro bought $1.1306, little changed from Monday when it climbed the most this month amid speculation the European Central Bank will maintain its monetary policy when it meets April 21.

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