Europe stocks up as Greece gets fo­cus

The China Post - - MARKETS -

Euro­pean stock mar­kets rose on Thurs­day as traders fo­cused on the Greek debt saga and out­look for in­ter­est rates on both sides of the At­lantic.

Lon­don’s bench­mark FTSE 100 in­dex climbed 0.63 per­cent to trade at 6,981.00 points ap­proach­ing mid­day in the cap­i­tal.

Frank­furt’s DAX 30 grew 0.36 per­cent to 12,078 points and the CAC-40 in Paris ad­vanced 0.78 per­cent to 5,177.00 points com­pared with Wed­nes­day’s close.

In for­eign ex­change, the Euro­pean sin­gle cur­rency fell to US$1.0743 from US$1.0780 late in New York on Wed­nes­day.

“Athens has vowed to re­pay the IMF to­day and the mar­ket is op­ti­mistic the agree­ment will be hon­ored,” said David Mad­den, mar­ket an­a­lyst at IG trad­ing group.

At­ten­tion among traders Thurs­day was also on the Fed­eral Re­serve.

Min­utes of the U.S. cen­tral bank’s last pol­icy meet­ing re­leased late in New York on Wed­nes­day showed a split over when in­ter­est rates should again start ris­ing in the world’s big­gest econ­omy.

Ac­cord­ing to the min­utes of the March 17-18 meet­ing of the Fed­eral Open Mar­ket Com­mit­tee, “sev­eral par­tic­i­pants” thought con­di­tions were right for a June hike in the fed­eral funds rate, stuck near zero since late 2008.

Oth­ers deemed the econ­omy would not be able to weather a hike un­til later in the year, while “a cou­ple” said liftoff would re­main un­likely un­til 2016.

The Bank of Eng­land was mean­while Thurs­day ex­pected to keep its main in­ter­est rate at 0.50 per­cent fol­low­ing its last mon­e­tary pol­icy meet­ing be­fore Bri­tain’s gen­eral elec­tion on May 7.

“The Bank of Eng­land, like its U.S. coun­ter­part, is also weigh­ing up the tim­ing of its first rate hike (in years), although it ap­pears to be a lit­tle be­hind at the mo­ment de­spite the strength of the (Bri­tish) econ­omy as the coun­try flirts with de­fla­tion,” said Craig Er­lam, se­nior mar­ket an­a­lyst at Oanda

trad­ing group.

Asian Mar­kets Mostly Down but

Hong Kong Soars

Hong Kong shares mo­tored Thurs­day, ris­ing more than six per­cent over two days, as main­lan­ders pile into the mar­ket, but most other Asian eq­ui­ties re­treated af­ter min­utes from the U.S. Fed­eral Re­serve showed pol­i­cy­mak­ers split on when to hike in­ter­est rates.

Wall Street pro­vided a healthy plat­form for re­gional in­vestors while the dollar ticked higher.

Hong Kong jumped 2.70 per­cent, or 707.53 points, to 26,944.39, although that is well short of the 6.7 per­cent surge seen in the open­ing ex­changes — the in­dex ended 3.80 per­cent higher Wed­nes­day.

But Shang­hai lost 0.93 per­cent, or 37.28 points, to end at 3,957.53 on profit-tak­ing.

Tokyo rose 0.75 per­cent, or 147.91 points, to 19,937.72 thanks to a weaker yen but Syd­ney lost 0.48 per­cent, or 28.53 points, to close at 5,932.20 and Seoul was marginally lower, dip­ping 0.39 points to 2,058.87.

Shares in Hong Kong surged for a sec­ond day as main­land in­vestors cap­i­tal­ize on the Stock Connect scheme with Shang­hai that al­lows them to trade a limited amount of shares in the south­ern Chi­nese city, and vice versa.

The pro­gram was ini­tially met with scant in­ter­est, but main­land au­thor­i­ties’ de­ci­sion last month to ex­pand the num­ber of fund-man­age­ment firms al­lowed to buy in Hong Kong has seen ac­tiv­ity surge and on Wed­nes­day turnover hit a record HK$250.03 bil­lion (US$32 bil­lion).

“The cat­a­lyst for the rally in Hong Kong was the al­lowance by the Chi­nese se­cu­ri­ties reg­u­la­tors to have Chi­nese mu­tual funds be able to in­vest in Hong Kong listed com­pa­nies,” Mark Matthews, Sin­ga­pore­based head of Asia re­search at Bank Julius Baer & Co., told Bloomberg TV.

On Wed­nes­day traders on both sides of the bor­der for the first time used up their daily quota of deals al­lowed un­der the link-up.

Shang­hai stocks have been ris­ing for more than a year as re­tail in­vestors bet — of­ten us­ing bor­rowed money — on au­thor­i­ties loos­en­ing mon­e­tary pol­icy fur­ther to sup­port the world’s num­ber two econ­omy.

The cen­tral bank has al­ready cut in­ter­est rates twice since Novem­ber, while Pre­mier Li Ke­qiang last month sug­gested the gov­ern­ment had the weapons to sup­port growth if nec­es­sary.

Gold fetched US$1,199.20 against US$1,210.60 late Wed­nes­day. In other mar­kets: — Bangkok closed flat, ris­ing 0.02 per­cent, or 0.25 points, to 1,545.11.

— Mumbai rose 0.62 per­cent, or 177.46 points, to end at 28,885.21.

— Sin­ga­pore closed down 0.01 per­cent, or 0.38 points, to 3,460.30.

— Jakarta closed up 0.26 per­cent, or 14.32 points, to 5,500.90.

— Malaysia’s main in­dex lost 0.05 per­cent, or 0.92 points, to close at 1,849.39.

— Welling­ton gave back 0.21 per­cent, or 12.55 points, to end at 5,847.17.

— Manila was closed for a public hol­i­day.

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