Most Asian stock markets rise after S&P reaches all-time high; Nikkei slips

BANGKOK – Asian stock markets rose Tuesday, brushing off tepid Japanese manufacturing data after the Standard & Poor’s 500 index closed at another all-time high.

Better-than-expected pending homes sales for March renewed faith in the U.S. economic recovery. The number of Americans who signed contracts to buy homes reached the highest level in three years. Wages and spending in the U.S. also rose last month. European shares finished higher Monday after Italy formed a new coalition government.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng rose 0.9 per cent to 22,774.96. South Korea’s Kospi advanced 1.3 per cent to 1,966.27. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 added 1.1 per cent to 5,183.10. Benchmarks in Taiwan, Singapore, New Zealand and the Philippines also advanced.

“The U.S. is hitting new highs almost every day now and improved sentiment in the eurozone is helping overall markets across the board,” said Jackson Wong, vice-president of Tanrich Securities in Hong Kong.

However, Japanese data showing only modest improvement in manufacturing dampened sentiment there. Factory output rose 0.2 per cent in March, its fourth straight monthly increase. The number fell short of expectations and analysts continue to believe the country’s economic recovery remains relatively weak. Japan’s Nikkei 225 index was nearly unchanged at 13,887.97.

“While export revenues have been boosted strongly by yen depreciation and consumers’ confidence has also jumped, the recovery in export volumes and actual consumer spending remained comparatively slow,” analysts at DBS Bank Ltd. in Singapore said in a commentary.

Among individual stocks, Australia’s ANZ Banking Group Ltd. rose 5.2 per cent after the company announced a rise in half-year profit.

Sentiment has been boosted in recent days by expectations that the European Central Bank will reduce interest rates on Thursday.

The Federal Reserve concludes a policy meeting Wednesday and is not expected to make changes in its super-loose monetary policy. On Friday, U.S. nonfarm payrolls data for April will be published, a key gauge of employment in the world’s No. 1 economy.

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average rose 0.7 per cent to close at 14,818.75 on Monday. The S&P 500 rose 0.7 per cent to 1,593.61, a record high. The Nasdaq composite index rose 0.9 per cent to 3,307.02.

Benchmark oil for June delivery was down 9 cents to $94.41 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose $1.50 to finish at $94.50 on the Nymex on Monday.

In currencies, the euro fell slightly to $1.3094 from $1.3097. The dollar fell to 97.92 yen from 98.01 yen.


Follow Pamela Sampson on Twitter at