Asia shares up on Wall St. record, China economy

AP and AFP

BEIJING/HONG KONG–World stocks were mostly higher Wednesday on improved U.S. and Chinese economic activity. In Europe, Germany’s DAX added 0.2 percent to 9,924.56 and France’s CAC-40 was up 0.1 percent at 4,464.88. Britain’s FTSE 100 rose 0.2 percent to 6,813.19. Futures augured gains on Wall Street. Dow and S&P 500 futures were each up 0.1 percent. Traders were encouraged by surveys showing China’s manufacturing activity improved in June for the first time in six months. That came on top of the government’s decision to expand credit by allowing banks to lend more relative to the size of their deposits. Both developments “bode well for growth,” said Credit Agricole CIB economist Dariusz Kowalczyk in a report. Asian markets advanced Wednesday, taking a strong lead from a record close on Wall Street, while a weaker yen helped Tokyo add to the previous day’s healthy gains. The dollar sat at more than five-and-a-half-year lows against the pound after a strong set of manufacturing figures out of Britain. Investors are also eyeing the release later in the week of closely watched U.S. jobs figures that will provide fresh clues about the strength of the recovery in the world’s number one economy. Tokyo rose 0.29 percent, or 43.77 points, to 15,369.97, Sydney added 1.48 percent, or 79.5 points, to 5,455.4 and Seoul put on 0.81 percent, or 16.28 points, to close at 2,015.28.

Shanghai ended 0.44 percent, or 9.04 points, higher at 2,059.42 while Hong Kong advanced 1.55 percent, or 358.90 points, to 23,549.62. U.S. shares jumped in response to news out of China that a survey of manufacturing activity in June hit its highest level this year, suggesting a growth slowdown may have bottomed out. Traders were also boosted by surprisingly strong figures for U.S. auto sales. The Dow climbed 0.77 percent Tuesday and the S&P 500 added 0.67 percent — both ending at all-time highs. The Nasdaq surged 1.14 percent. US Jobs Report in View

Investors were unfazed by the Institute for Supply Management’s manufacturing purchasing managers’ index of manufacturing activity, which dipped marginally in June. Focus now turns to the release of non-farm payrolls figures from the U.S. Labor Department. “Upcoming U.S. jobs data should help to reinforce hopes that the U.S. economic recovery remains on track,” Mizuho Securities senior technical analyst Yutaka Miura told Dow Jones Newswires. Gold fetched US$1,326.03 an ounce at 1040 GMT compared with US$1,325.00 late Tuesday.