Asian stocks rise after strong Japan, China data

HONG KONG, Sept 09, 2013 (AFP) - Asian markets rose Monday as strong Chinese trade data lifted hopes for the global economic outlook while Japanese stocks were boosted by improved growth figures and Tokyo's successful bid to host the 2020 Olympics.

Weaker-than-forecast US jobs figures raised concerns about the world's number one economy but also fuelled hope that the Federal Reserve will hold off winding down its stimulus programme for the time being.

Tokyo rose 2.48 per cent, or 344.42 points, to 14,205.23. Japanese dealers bought into construction and real estate plays after Tokyo's Olympics success, while there was also cheer for better-than expected gross domestic product data for the April-June quarter.

Sydney rose 0.71 per cent, or 36.5 points, to 5,181.5 in the first session back after the conservative Liberal/National coalition won a weekend general election in Australia as widely expected.

Shanghai soared 3.39 per cent, or 72.53 points, to 2,212.52 and Hong Kong added 0.57 per cent, or 129.43 points, to 22,750.65. Seoul closed 0.99 per cent higher, adding 19.36 points to 1,974.67.

Chinese data on Sunday showed exports jumped 7.2 per cent year-on-year to $190.6 billion last month, much better than the 6.0 per cent expected by economists. It was also better than the 5.1 per cent rise seen in July.

The figures are the latest in a string of good results out of Beijing that indicate China's painful slowdown over much of the first six months of 2013 may have come to an end. Earlier this month the government said manufacturing activity grew at its fastest pace in 16 months in August.

Investors were cheered by the news as Chinese growth is key to helping drive the economies of many other countries in the region.

Tokyo dealers were already in buying mood after the Olympics result when data was unveiled showing the Japanese economy grew 0.9 per cent over the previous quarter in April-June, up from a preliminary reading of 0.6 per cent.

On an annualised basis the economy expanded 3.8 per cent, the government said, up from the first estimate of 2.6 per cent. Annualised figures show the rate of growth if the data was stretched across an entire year.

"The Olympics, better-than-expected China's export data, and strong GDP data are all supporting the market today," Haruhiko Kuramochi, strategist at Mizuho Securities, told Dow Jones Newswires.

The Nikkei was also supported by a weaker yen as confidence in the global economy saw investors move into higher-risk assets looking for better returns.

In afternoon forex trade the dollar bought 99.60 yen, against 99.11 yen Friday in New York. The euro was at $1.3171 and 131.21 yen compared with $1.3180 and 130.62 yen.

The greenback suffered a sell-off on Friday after the US Labor Department said the economy added 169,000 jobs in August, below projections of 177,000. The report also lowered the estimates for jobs added in June and July.

However, while the result suggests the US economy is not as strong as hoped, it means the Federal Reserve's plans to reel in its stimulus programme may be put off a little longer.

Scott Wren, a senior equity strategist at Wells Fargo Advisors, said the report "wasn't good at all" but added: "It's a 'what's bad is good' type of thing."

Emerging markets -- especially in emerging economies -- were hammered last month as foreigners fled back to the West in expectations the Fed will start to cut back on its vast bond purchases by the end of the year.

On Wall Street the Dow fell 0.10 per cent, and the S&P 500 and Nasdaq were flat.

While buying sentiment was strong, an ongoing dispute between Russia and the US over Syria had dealers on edge as presidents Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin failed Friday to reach agreement at a G20 summit on how to deal with the crisis.

On oil markets New York's main contract, West Texas Intermediate for delivery in October, was down 46 cents at $110.07 in late afternoon trade, while Brent North Sea crude for October shed 32 cents to $115.80.

WTI hit a 28-month high in New York trade Friday owing to the tensions between the US and Russia.

Gold cost $1,387.10 an ounce at 0810 GMT compared with $1,368.10 late Friday.

In other markets:

-- Taipei rose 0.34 per cent, or 27.91 points, to 8,192.11.

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co was 0.98 per cent higher at Tw$103.0 while Hon Hai Precision gained 4.05 per cent to Tw$77.0.

-- Manila rose 0.38 per cent, or 22.42 points, to 5,997.04.

SM Investments rose 1.01 per cent to 699 pesos, while Ayala Land slipped 0.60 per cent to 24.85 pesos.

-- Wellington rose 0.37 per cent, or 16.84 points, to 4,614.02.

Fletcher Building added 0.32 per cent to NZ$9.31 while Telecom eased 0.23 per cent to NZ$2.20.