Asian shares up, Shanghai soars on China hopes
Rising corporate profits and a jump in oil prices helped push the stock market to a modest gain on Wednesday.
For investors, any good news comes as a welcome surprise this earnings season, which is widely expected to be the worst in years. Analysts predict that companies in the S& P 500 will report a 3 percent drop in profits. Most of the blame lies with the slump in oil prices over the past year, which has squeezed oil and gas companies, and a strong dollar, which diminishes the value of profits earned abroad when they’re brought back home.
The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 10.79 points, or 0.5 percent, to close at 2,106.63. Transocean, an operator of drilling rigs, soared 10 percent, the biggest gain in the index.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 75.91 points, or 0.4 percent, to 18,112.61, while the Nasdaq composite added 33.73 points, or 0.7 percent, to 5,011.02.
Major markets in Europe ended the day mixed. Germany’s DAX finished flat while France’s CAC- 40 gained 0.7 percent. The United Kingdom’s FTSE 100 in- dex of leading shares added 0.3 percent.
Minutes after being forced from the stage by a protester, Mario Draghi, the president of the European Central Bank, indicated that the bank will stick with its monthly purchases of bonds. A recent run of solid economic data fed speculation that the ECB will ease the pace of its bond- buying, aimed at spurring economic growth. His briefing came after the bank kept its main interest rate unchanged at a record low of 0.05 percent.
U. S., Bank
of America turned in a quarterly profit following a big loss a year ago as it put some of its legal troubles behind it. But revenue remained flat for its main businesses. The bank’s stock dropped 18 cents, or 1 percent, to US$ 15.64.
Asian markets rose Thursday, with Shanghai rallying on hopes for further China stimulus while Japanese shares were boosted by a weaker yen as the dollar reversed earlier losses.
Shanghai surged 2.71 percent, or 110.66 points, to 4,194.82 and Hong Kong gained 0.44 percent, or 120.89 points, to 27,739.71.
Tokyo bounced from a morni ng sell- off to end slightly higher, gaining 16.01 points to 19,885.77.
Sydney advanced 0.66 percent, or 39.08 points, to close at 5,947.5 after a better- thanexpected unemployment reading for March, while Seoul rose 0.94 percent, or 19.94 points, to 2,139.90.
Hong Kong’s bourse continued its rally after soaring over the past week with record turnover as mainland investors look for cheap assets in the city following a year- long rally in Shanghai that almost doubled its value.
Chinese investors have been flooding into stocks — using a link- up between the Hong Kong and Shanghai exchanges — on expectations China will ramp up its stimulus program to support the struggling economy, which in January- March grew at its slowest pace in six years.
Precious and industrial metals traded higher. Gold rose US$ 8.70 to settle at US$ 1,201.30 an ounce, while silver rose 12 cents to US$ 16.28 an ounce. Copper picked up a penny to US$ 2.71 a pound.
In other markets:
— Bangkok rose 1.43 percent, or 22.17 points, to 1,570.00
— Singapore fell 0.24 percent, or 8.34 points, to close at 3,531.61.
— Malaysia’s main index gained 0.42 percent, or 7.81 points, to close at 1,847.94.
— Jakarta ended up 0.11 percent, or 6.19 points, at 5,420.73.
— Mumbai fell 0.46 percent, or 133.65 points, to end at 28,666.04.
— Wellington rose 0.44 percent or 26.68 points to 5,881.76.
— Manila closed 0.53 percent higher, adding 41.74 points to 7,948.20.