Asia stocks extend rally on hopes of quick economic recovery


Business, Market

Markets have been particularly encouraged by a May U.S. jobs report last week that showed a surprise fall in the unemployment rate

Asia stocks extend rally as economic recovery hopes boost confidence. (AFP Photo)

SYDNEY: Asian stocks rallied for their ninth straight day on Tuesday and oil prices jumped as the lifting of coronavirus lockdowns in many countries fed investor hopes of a relatively quick global economic recovery.

Markets have been particularly encouraged by a May U.S. jobs report last week that showed a surprise fall in the unemployment rate, sending Wall Street indices surging with the Nasdaq hitting a record close on Monday.

Global financial markets were battered in March as investors fretted over extent of both the short and longer term damage to the world economy from the coronavirus pandemic. But most indices are now back to pre-COVID-19 levels.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside of Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS rose for a ninth straight session for its longest winning streak since early 2018. It was last up 0.76% at a three-month peak.

Australia's S&P/ASX 200 jumped 2.5% while Chinese shares started on a firm footing with the blue-chip CSI300 index rising 0.4%. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index climbed 1.2%.

Japan's Nikkei bucked the trend to be down 0.5%.

“The good news is that this shows central banks’ effort to stabilise the market have worked,” said Tai Hui, Chief Asia Market Strategist at J.P. Morgan Asset Management.

“The current risk rally is driven by investors’ belief that the worst of this recession is behind us, which we agree with. Yet, investors need to be mindful of the potential risks ahead.”

Tai said the “road to recovery” was still long while the threat of a second wave of coronavirus infections cannot be ruled out yet.

Fears of renewed trade tensions between the United States and China and the second round impact from higher unemployment and bankruptcies worldwide also hung heavy on the outlook

For now, though, investors were taking a glass-half-full view on the global economy.

Financial, automotive and retail-oriented and energy shares - the stocks most beaten-down since the pandemic slammed markets - have been leading world equity indices higher recently.

Overnight on Wall Street, the Dow rose 1.7%, the S&P 500 gained 1.20% and the Nasdaq Composite added 1.13%.

U.S. stocks were also bolstered by a move by the Federal Reserve to ease the terms of its “Main Street” lending program to encourage more businesses and banks to participate.

Investors are now seeking further clarity on U.S. monetary policy after the Fed’s two-day policy meeting ends on Wednesday.

In currency markets, the risk-sensitive Australian dollar hit a five-month top of $0.7043 after eight straight days of gains but has encountered some selling pressure at those heady levels.

Its New Zealand counterpart jumped to a four-month high.

The safe-haven Japanese yen also nudged up 0.2% at 108.15, while the euro  was off a touch at $1.1285.

In commodities, U.S. benchmark crude CLc1 rose $1.28 a barrel to $38.68 a barrel, while Brent LCOc1 added $1.13 to $41.25.

Gold prices XAU= were up after a steep decline, boosted by hopes of a dovish monetary policy outlook from the Fed. Spot gold was last up 0.1% at 1,697.1.