Asian markets rally, SoftBank soars on US deal


HONG KONG — Asian markets extended gains Wednesday after another record close on Wall Street, with Japan’s SoftBank surging after Donald Trump said the telecoms giant had agreed to invest US$50 billion in the U.S. Sydney was up almost 1 percent by the close despite figures showing its economy contracted in the third quarter. Dealers are now looking ahead to a meeting Thursday of the European Central Bank, which is expected to extend a stimulus program beyond its planned March finish and provide further buying support. Further stimulus from the ECB will be bullish for equities,” James Woods, Sydney-based analyst at Rivkin Securities, a brokerage, told Bloomberg news. The minimum we’re expecting is for the ECB to announce a six-month extension. Hong Kong ended up 0.6 percent, while Tokyo closed 0.7 percent higher and Shanghai also increased 0.7 percent. Tokyo-listed SoftBank soared 6.19 percent to 7,387 yen, with investors hailing news that the company had agreed to invest a huge sum in business and job creation in the United States. Trump made the announcement about the deal — which he said would bring 50,000 jobs — in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York, alongside SoftBank’s flamboyant CEO Masayoshi Son. Later in the day Taiwan tech giant Foxconn confirmed it is in “preliminary discussions” as part of the investment deal. Seoul, Singapore and Manila also gained, while Sydney rose 0.9 percent even as data showed Australia’s economy shrank in July-September on-quarter at the sharpest rate in eight years. The latest figure raised the possibility the country could enter a technical recession for the first time in 25 years if it posts a second successive quarter of contraction in October-December.

But Annette Beacher, head of Asia-Pacific research at TD Securities in Singapore, told Bloomberg: “We’re still confident that this is just a perfect storm of negatives and we shouldn’t be talking about technical recessions — we should be talking about what rebound we can expect for the fourth quarter.” Also in view for traders in Asia is the Federal Reserve’s policy meeting next week — the last big new event of the year — with the U.S. central bank widely tipped to lift interest rates. Its statement will also be pored over for clues about future policy in light of an expected surge in government spending by Trump which would likely fan inflation. In early European trade London added 0.7 percent, and Paris and Frankfurt each gained 1 percent. Key Figures around 0800 GMT Tokyo — Nikkei 225: UP 0.7 percent at 18,496.69 (close) Hong Kong — Hang Seng: UP 0.6 percent at 22,800.92 (close) Shanghai — Composite: UP 0.7 percent at 3,222.24 (close) London — FTSE 100: UP 0.7 percent at 6,829.06 Euro/dollar: DOWN at US$1.0718 from US$1.0719 Tuesday Dollar/yen: UP at 114.34 yen from 114.03 yen

Pound/dollar: DOWN at US$1.2638 from US$1.2678 Oil — West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 21 cents at US$50.72 per barrel Oil — Brent North Sea: DOWN 15 cents at US$53.78 New York – Dow: UP 0.2 percent at 19,251.78 (close)