Asian shares rise, Hong Kong at 7-year high


AFP

HONG KONG–Asian markets rallied Wednesday, led by an almost 4 percent surge in Hong Kong on its first post-holiday trading day as it reacted to weak U.S. jobs data that reduced the chances of a rate rise any time soon. The Japanese central bank’s decision to delay any new easing measures pushed the yen up against the dollar, while investors await the release of minutes from the Federal Reserve’s latest policy meeting. Oil prices ticked lower on profit-taking in Asia after climbing Tuesday to their highest level of 2015. Hong Kong, which last traded on Thursday, soared 3.80 percent, or 961.22 points, to 26,236.86 as mainland dealers for the first time hit their daily limit of deals allowed in the southern Chinese city under a new stock connect with Shanghai. Shanghai ended 0.84 percent, or 33.43 points higher at 3,994.81 and Tokyo added 0.76 percent, or 149.27 points, to 19,789.81. Sydney rose 0.59 percent, or 34.7 points, to 5,960.7 and Seoul advanced 0.60 percent, or 12.23 points, to end at 2,059.26. Last week’s Labor Department data showing that the U.S. economy created fewer jobs in March than it had for more than a year raised expectations that rates will be kept low through the summer. The next focal point is the release later Wednesday of minutes from the last Fed meeting, with dealers poring over them for clues about when the bank plans to announce a rise.

Hong Kong Rallies

��There’s still a little bit of doubt in the market as to really where the U.S. economy is, and more importantly, how the Fed perceives the U.S. economy,�� Raiko Shareef, a markets strategist in Wellington at Bank of New Zealand, told Bloomberg News. The dollar is ��in a little bit of a holding pattern,�� he added.

However, dealers were cautious as Greece faces a Thursday deadline for its next bailout repayment to the International Monetary Fund. Eurozone deputy finance ministers will meet on Wednesday and Thursday to seek agreement on Athens’s reforms needed to unlock the last tranche of its multibillion-dollar bailout and avert a default. In Hong Kong turnover has surged as investors piled in from the mainland after Chinese authorities last month said they would expand the number of domestic fund-management firms allowed to buy stocks in the city through the ��Shanghai-Hong Kong Stock Connect�� scheme. The move came after a poor start to the much-vaunted scheme, which was launched to much fanfare in November. Adding fuel to the buying frenzy was a recent rally in China that has come on the back of comments from Premier Li Keqiang suggesting Beijing will announce fresh monetary easing measures to boost the economy.