Asian stocks rise on earnings optimism as US data approaches

Agence France-Presse
Asian stocks rise on earnings optimism as US data approaches
A man walks past an electronic board showing sharply lower numbers on the Tokyo Stock Exchange in Tokyo on November 4, 2022, as investors were disheartened by falls on Wall Street and focus shifting to key US jobs data due later in the day.
Richard A. Brooks / AFP

HONG KONG, China — Asian equities extended the week's gains Wednesday following a strong rally on Wall Street and another record in London, as traders cheered more upbeat earnings reports and data indicating a slowdown in US economic activity.

Analysts also said a recent pullback in markets provided an opportunity to step back in, while easing Middle East tensions were also providing much-needed support.

All three main indexes in New York enjoyed a bump Tuesday, with the Nasdaq and S&P 500 each piling on more than one percent.

General Electric, Spotify, and diaper and paper product brand Kimberly-Clark were among the companies posting strong gains after releasing quarterly reports.

Microsoft and Alphabet are among the other top firms set to announce their results this week.

Electric car giant Tesla announced late Tuesday a big profits miss but said it would speed up the launch of cheaper vehicles, which saw its share price soar in after-hours trade.

Hopes for a strong batch of earnings -- particularly from the crucial tech titans -- has been a key driver of the rally in stocks, helping to offset disappointment that the Federal Reserve will not cut interest rates as much as hoped this year, if at all.

Investors are also gearing up for the release of some major US data this week, with the standout being the personal consumption expenditures (PCE) index -- the Fed's preferred gauge of inflation.

That reading follows three straight months of forecast-topping consumer price figures that have forced investors to whittle down their outlook for how many cuts the central bank will make -- from six at the start of the year to two at most now.

A persistently strong jobs market has also raised questions about how low borrowing costs will be by 2025.

However, figures Tuesday from S&P Global showing that economic activity slowed in April provided a sliver of optimism for Fed cuts.

Chris Williamson, at S&P Global Market Intelligence, said: "The more challenging business environment prompted companies to cut payroll numbers at a rate not seen since the global financial crisis if the early pandemic lockdown months are excluded."

Asia continued the week's rally, with Tokyo, Hong Kong, Seoul and Taipei up more than two percent, while Wellington and Manila gained more than one percent higher.

Shanghai, Mumbai, Bangkok, Singapore and Jakarta were also well in the green. Sydney was flat, giving up early gains on strong Australian inflation data that fanned expectations interest rates would be kept elevated and pushed the local dollar up one percent against the greenback.

London rose again, having chalked up two straight record closes. Paris and Frankfurt also advanced.

Observers said traders were moving back into the markets as they looked to take advantage of the recent pullback to pick up bargains.

Oil prices rose again after jumping more than one percent Tuesday on a report pointing to another build in US inventories that raised questions about demand in the world's top economy.

That comes as OPEC and other key producers stick to their output cuts, while investors were also eyeing Washington moves to punish Iran for its attack on Israel earlier this month.

Key figures around 0810 GMT 

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: UP 2.4 percent at 38,460.08 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng Index: UP 2.2 percent at 17,201.27 (close)

Shanghai - Composite: UP 0.8 percent at 3,044.82 (close)

London - FTSE 100: UP 0.4 percent at 8,080.43

Dollar/yen: UP at 154.90 yen from 154.83 yen on Tuesday

Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.0692 from $1.0703

Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.2435 from $1.2448

Euro/pound: UP at 85.98 pence from 85.96 pence

West Texas Intermediate: FLAT at $83.38 per barrel

Brent North Sea Crude: UP 0.6 percent at $88.47 per barrel

New York - Dow: UP 0.7 percent at 38,503.69 (close

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