Asian Markets Pick Up on US Jobs and China Service PMI

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By Prasanth Aby Thomas | February 4, 2013 3:44 PM EST

Most Asian markets picked up in the morning, boosted by improving US labour market conditions and yet more robust China growth indicators.

Japan's benchmark Nikkei average index traded 0.50 percent or 55.58 points higher to 11246.92 while South Korea's KOSPI gained 0.28 percent or 5.52 points to1963.31. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 eased 0.08 percent or 3.80 points to 4917.30.

In China, the Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.74 percent or 17.78 points to 2436.80 while Hong Kong's Hang Seng was up 0.64 percent or 152.51 points to 23874.35.

Investors began the first trading day after the January US nonfarm payrolls figures on an upbeat note following a Wall Street rally towards the previous week closure. Official figures from the country's Labour Department showed that employers added 157,000 jobs in the first month of 2013 and employment scene improved more than previous estimates.

Other indicators too added to recovery optimism in the world's largest economy. The Institute of Supply Management's (ISM) data that showed manufacturing activity grew at a quicker pace in January compared to the previous month.

Macroeconomic figures from China returned to offer investors reasons to cheer after recent manufacturing data that failed to meet expectations. Data released over the weekend showed that the world's second largest economy's increasingly critical service-sector rose for the fourth straight month in January. The non-manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) rose to 56.2 in January from 56.1 in December.

"Global markets are riding a strong wave of euphoria currently which saw a storming January come to an end last week. February has started on a firmer footing, with the US, China and also Europe adding to the positive mood," said Jason Hughes, Head of Premium Client Management at IG Markets in Singapore.

"Investors are also going through the 'great rotation' as they shift out of recession-proof bonds and fixed income into riskier assets."

In Japan, the yen continued to remain weak against the dollar as the persisting weak economic conditions increased further central bank intervention optimism. The greenback traded at about ¥92.69 during the day, boosting currency-sensitive Japanese stocks.

Major Movers

Electronics and automobiles rallied in Tokyo on earnings and weak yen optimism. Panasonic was up 16.89 percent after reporting a quarterly net profit while Sharp was up 7.90 percent after the company reported a slimmer net loss. Mitsubishi Motors rose 10.68 percent while Mazda Motor Corp gained 5.84 percent.

In Hong Kong, Ping An Insurance Company fell 2.40 percent following reports that Chinese regulators cleared HSBC's plans to sell its stakes in the company to a Thai billionaire.

Property stocks traded higher. New World Development Company added 2.41 percent while China Resources Land was up 1.52 percent.

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