Asian stock markets rallied again yesterday as another surge in oil prices and gains on Wall Street reinforced optimism about the world economy.
With a positive vibe flowing across trading floors, investors shifted out of safe-bet assets such as the yen, which helped Japan’s Nikkei record a third-straight gain.
However, carmaker Mitsubishi Motors bombed 20%, extending Wednesday’s 15% dive – and wiping billions off its value – on news it falsified fuel-efficiency tests on hundreds of thousands of vehicles.
New York investors provided a solid platform for their Asian counterparts, thanks to another jump in crude prices that came in response to data showing US production fell last week.
The two main contracts soared around 4% after the news – putting them both into the mid-$40 a barrel zone.
Prices edged up further yesterday putting the commodity around its highest levels this year, just days after the failure of much-anticipated talks between major producers aimed at limiting output.
Brent rose 0.4% to break the $46 mark for the first time since November, while West Texas Intermediate also added 0.4%.
Analysts said confidence has been buoyed in recent weeks by a string of healthy data out of China, the world’s number two economy, and the Federal Reserve’s shift to put off any interest rate hikes until after June.
“Recovering fundamentals and the fact that the Fed is going to hold rates for a while is certainly helping sentiment,” Kirk Hartman, Los Angeles-based chief investment officer of Wells Capital Management,told Bloomberg TV.
“People are becoming much more positive on China. People are realising that China isn’t going to have a hard landing.”
The Nikkei finished 2.7% higher as the yen eased against the dollar. While it dipped slightly yesterday, the greenback is near the 110 yen level not seen since the start of the month, which has shored up Japan’s exporters. Mitsubishi’s value has plunged $2.5bn in two days after admitting it falsified fuel-efficiency tests in more than 600,000 vehicles. Testing was manipulated to boost fuel economy rates above the cars’ actual level.
Japanese transport ministry officials yesterday entered one of the firm’s research and development centres in Nagoya, in a sign the government may slap it with heavy fines over the scandal, local media said.
In other markets Hong Kong was up 1.8% while Sydney ended 1.1% higher Seoul was 0.8% stronger. Singapore, Taipei, Wellington and Manila also rose.
However, Shanghai closed 0.7% lower, extending the previous day’s losses, with analysts suggesting the recent batch of upbeat data has fuelled fears Chinese authorities will hold off unveiling any fresh stimulus for the time being.
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