China stocks jump as dim exports add stimulus hope

AP and AFP

HONG KONG — Chinese stocks surged to their highest level in more than three years Monday after disappointing exports raised investor hopes of more stimulus. Other Asian markets mostly posted modest gains while European stocks fell.

European stocks were lower in early trading, with France’s CAC-40 losing 0.4 percent to 4,399.72. Germany’s DAX slipped 0.3 percent to 10,052.967 Britain’s FTSE 100 fell 0.4 percent to 6,715.79. Wall Street rallied in reaction Friday, with the Dow climbing 0.33 percent and the S&P 500 adding 0.16 percent �X both settling at record highs �X while the Nasdaq gained 0.24 percent. The U.S. Labor Department said Friday the world’s biggest economy added 321,000 jobs in November, 90,000 more than expected and the best performance in almost three years. The news is yet another indication that the United States is well on the recovery track and will put more pressure on the Fed to increase interest rates before its mid-2015 timetable. Tokyo stocks closed flat as buying prompted by strong U.S. jobs data and a weak yen fizzled out. The Nikkei 225 index at the Tokyo Stock Exchange inched up 0.08 percent, or 15.19 points, to 17,935.64, the highest finish since July 2007. The Topix index of all first-section issues was up 0.13 percent, or 1.91 points, at 1,447.58. The second growth estimate from the Cabinet Office showed Japan’s economy contracted 0.5 percent quarter-on-quarter in the three months to September, worse than the 0.4 percent shrinkage in a preliminary report. Toyota rose 1.49 percent to 7,858.0 yen and Canon rose 0.26 percent to 3,910.5 yen. Sony fell 3.24 percent to 2,590.0 yen, dragged down by concerns over a brazen cyber attack on its movies business arm. Sydney added 0.70 percent, or 37.4 points, to 5,372.7, while Seoul lost 0.39 percent, or 7.67 points, to close at 1,978.95. Hong Kong stocks climbed 0.19 percent Monday as another batch of weak Chinese data fuelled hopes of further easing measures by Beijing, with a surge in U.S. jobs creation also providing support. The Hang Seng Index rose 45.03 points to 24,047.67 on turnover of HK$122.99 billion (US$15.87 billion). The result highlights the problems Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has in kick-starting the economy just under two weeks before a general election. Equities in Shanghai continued to rocket after figures showing export rose 4.7 percent year-on-year in November, while imports dropped 6.7 percent. Forecasts had been for exports to increase 8.0 percent and imports to rise 3.9 percent. The figures are the latest in a series showing weakness in the Asian economic powerhouse. But dealers expect authorities to announce new measures to reignite growth after last month’s interest rate cut. ��The weak exports data strengthened market expectations for policy easing and investors continued to place their money in heavyweight blue-chips like banks, brokerages and property stocks,�� Central China Securities analyst Zhang Gang told AFP. Gold was at US$1,195.20 an ounce compared with US$1,203.58 late Friday.