Asian markets have mostly risen following another record close on Wall Street as US private jobs growth picked up, but Shanghai gave up early gains despite China unveiling a mini stimulus program.
Global shares have enjoyed a broad rally this week following upbeat manufacturing data in key economies, while investors are keenly awaiting the release of a US non-farm payrolls report on Friday.
Tokyo on Thursday added 0.84 per cent, or 125.56 points, to 15,071.88, Sydney gained 0.12 per cent, or 6.6 points, to close at 5,409.9 and Hong Kong was 0.18 per cent higher, jumping 41.14 points to 22,565.08
But Seoul slipped 0.18 per cent, or 3.55 points, to 1,993.70 and Shanghai shed 0.74 per cent, or 15.29 points, to 2,043.70.
Beijing on Wednesday announced a series of spending measures aimed at kick-starting the Chinese economy, a key driver of global growth, but one which has shown signs of slowing in recent months.
The plan includes extra spending on railways, improving low-income housing and tax relief for small businesses, which have been struggling along with the economy.
Wednesday’s announcement comes after a weak run of Chinese indicators, including on trade, investment and industrial output. The economy grew an annual 7.7 per cent in 2013, the same as in 2012 – which was the slowest since 1999, while leaders have set a target of 7.5 per cent for this year.
“It’s very obvious that the leaders feel the need to stabilise growth,” Mizuho economist Shen Jianguang told Dow Jones Newswires. “Overall, the 7.5 per cent growth target means that the government still cares a lot about economic growth.”
However, the government made no mention of monetary policy, such as a reduction in the amount of cash banks must keep in reserve, or an interest rate cut.
On Wall Street, the S&P 500 closed at a second straight record high after payrolls firm ADP said US businesses added 191,000 jobs in March, returning to the level of growth seen in December before severe winter weather struck the country. The February number was also revised up by 39,000 to 178,000 jobs.
The S&P 500 rose 0.29 per cent, the Dow added 0.24 per cent and the Nasdaq finished 0.20 per cent higher.
In addition, US factory orders rose 1.6 per cent in February, better than forecasts of a 1.1 per cent increase.
The results raised hopes for a strong March government jobs reports on Friday following three months of slowing caused by the winter storms.
On currency markets, the US dollar bought Y103.91 in Tokyo, compared with Y103.85 in New York late on Wednesday.
The euro was at $US1.3763 against $US1.3765, while it also fetched Y143.01, up from Y142.96.
The euro will be in focus over the next few days as the European Central Bank holds a policy meeting on Thursday, with investors looking to find out its plans after inflation eased to a four-and-a-half-year low in March.
Oil prices were lower. New York’s West Texas Intermediate for May delivery eased 20 US cents to $US99.42 a barrel in afternoon trade, but Brent North Sea crude for May was down 12 US cents at $US104.67.
Gold fetched $US1,287.50 an ounce at 1920 AEDT compared with $US1,283.33 late on Wednesday.
In other markets:
– Taipei fell 0.19 per cent, or 16.91 points, to 8,888.54.
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co slipped 1.25 per cent to $Tw118.5 while smartphone maker HTC added 0.33 per cent to $Tw154.0.
– Wellington rose 0.12 per cent, or 6.06 points, to 5,122.37.
Telecom added 3.26 per cent to $NZ2.53 and Fletcher Building gained 0.63 per cent to $NZ9.52.
– Manila ended flat, dipping 0.64 points to 6,587.08.
Ayala Land rose 1.77 per cent to 31.60 pesos and its parent Ayala Corp fell 0.49 per cent to 610 pesos.