Asian stock markets gain on Europe, US economic data and China stimulus hopes

TOKYO – Asian stock markets climbed Tuesday, boosted by positive economic data from major economies and hopes for stimulus in China.

KEEPING SCORE: Hong Kong’s Hang Seng added 0.7 per cent to 25,018.57 and the China’s Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.5 per cent to 3,803.86. Japan’s Nikkei 225 was little changed at 19,409.10 and South Korea’s Kospi advanced 0.2 per cent to 2,033.70. Other regional markets also rose, including Taiwan, Australia, Indonesia and the Philippines.

GLOBAL DATA: Markets are being cheered by positive data from the U.S. and Europe, and are expecting generally favourable company earnings reports as well. A European Commission survey has shown economic sentiment at its highest since July 2011. Consumer spending edged up in the U.S. in February following two straight monthly declines, and consumers’ incomes rose a solid 0.4 per cent.

CHINA FACTOR: In China, hopes are growing for more economic stimulus. Zhou Xiaochuan, governor of the People’s Bank of China, indicated last weekend that the world’s No. 2 economy had slowed “a bit too sharply,” suggesting additional government measures might be coming.

ANALYST TAKE: “Final day of the quarter for Asia, so expect some very strong and boisterous moves across the region,” said Evan Lucas, market strategist at IG in Melbourne. “China will be a major mover of Asian markets today. The changes in policy yesterday may now need to be factored into the macro strategy,” he said, referring to steps to boost the housing market.

WALL STREET: The Dow rose 263.65 points, or 1.5 per cent, to 17,976.31 on Monday. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 25.22 points, or 1.2 per cent, to 2,086.24, while the Nasdaq composite gained 56.22 points, or 1.2 per cent, to 4,947.44.

ENERGY: U.S. oil was down 62 cents to $48.06 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The futures contract fell 19 cents to $48.68 a barrel on Monday. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils, was down 45 cents to $55.84 a barrel in London.

CURRENCIES: The euro fell to $1.0817 from $1.0825 the previous session. The dollar rose to 120.14 yen from 120.06 yen.