Channel NewsAsia

Asian shares gain despite downbeat data

Asian shares rose on Friday, tracking gains on Wall Street and in European markets despite downcast eurozone growth data and statistics showing a larger-than-expected rise in US jobless claims.

HONG KONG: Asian shares rose on Friday (Aug 15), tracking gains on Wall Street and in European markets despite downcast eurozone growth data and statistics showing a larger-than-expected rise in US jobless claims.

Hong Kong gained 0.62 per cent, or 153.58 points, to 24,954.94, Shanghai climbed 0.92 per cent, or 20.26 points, to 2,226.73, Sydney added 0.32 per cent, or 18 points, to 5,566.5, while Tokyo ended flat, edging up 3.77 points to 15,318.34. Mumbai and Seoul were shut for public holidays.

The rise followed a positive lead from Wall Street, where the Dow Jones Industrial Average added 0.37 per cent to 16,713.58 on Thursday, extending the prior day's gains. Traders shrugged off the rise in initial claims for US unemployment insurance benefits last week that did not alter the still-improving trend in the volatile weekly data.

New jobless claims, a sign of the pace of layoffs, rose to a six-week high of 311,000 in the week ending August 9, up 21,000 from the prior week's revised 290,000, the Labor Department said. The four-week moving average was up 2,000 to 295,750, but still reflected an improving jobs market. A year ago the average stood at 335,000 claims.

Investors also appeared to view Thursday's weak second quarter eurozone growth data - dragged down by Germany and France - as likely to spur the European Central Bank to step in with more stimulus for the 18-nation bloc.

Currency markets were stable on easing concerns over the situation in Ukraine after Russian President Vladimir Putin called for an end to the crisis in the violence-wracked country. Putin said Moscow should not "fence itself off from the outside world" despite a plunge in East-West relations over the pro-Kremlin insurgency in Ukraine. Investors interpreted the remarks as a signal by Putin that he preferred not to escalate the deadly Ukrainian crisis much further.

The dollar was at ¥102.53 in afternoon Asian trade, compared with ¥102.45 in New York late Thursday. The euro bought US$1.3363 and ¥137.07 against US$1.3365 and ¥136.93 in US trade.

In oil markets, US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for September delivery rose three cents to US$95.61 while Brent crude for October was up 54 cents to US$102.61 in afternoon trade. Gold traded at US$1,313.53 an ounce at 0842 GMT compared to US$1,310.00 an ounce late Thursday.

IN OTHER MARKETS:

- Wellington rose 0.31 per cent, or 15.67 points, to 5,078.08. Spark was up 1.05 per cent at NZ$2.88 per cent and Warehouse Group gained 1.29 per cent to NZ$3.14.

- Taipei fell 0.26 per cent, or 23.8 points, to 9,206.81. Hon Hai lost 1.38 per cent to T$107.5 while HTC rose 0.4 per cent to T$127.0.

- Manila lost 0.74 per cent, or 52.49 points, to 7,008.51. Budget supermarket chain Puregold plunged 8.73 per cent to 36.05 pesos, Alliance Global fell 3.35 percent to 26.00 pesos and BDO Unibank eased 0.22 per cent to 91.50 pesos. 

Tweet photos, videos and updates on this story to  @channelnewsasia