Asian stocks higher after Wall Street gains
ASIAN stock markets rose Thursday following a rally on Wall Street as remarks by a European Central Bank board member eased worries about the new Italian government’s spending plans.
KEEPING SCORE: Japan’s Nikkei 225 jumped 1 percent to 22,839.85 and the Shanghai Composite Index added 0.2 percent to 3,120.46. South Korea’s Kospi was up 0.6 percent to 2,468.59 and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index advanced 0.5 percent to 31,414.27. In Australia, the S&P-ASX 200 gained 0.7 percent to 6,066.10. Benchmarks also rose in Taiwan and Southeast Asia.
EUROPE: The euro rose against the dollar after a European Central Bank board member said policymakers will discuss next week withdrawing its bond-purchasing stimulus, suggesting the ECB wasn’t overly worried about the new Italian government’s plans. The remarks by executive board member Peter Praet suggested that next meeting on June 14 in Riga, Latvia, would bring hints at the end of the bond purchases. Currently, the bank says it will keep buying 30 billion euros ($35 billion) a month in bonds at least through September.
ITALY: The coalition of the euroskeptic 5-Star Movement and the right-wing League party won the second of two confidence votes in parliament required to begin governing. Financial markets worry its plans to spend more to help the poor might add to Italy’s debt. Premier Giuseppe Conti, a political newcomer, makes his debut in the international arena at this week’s Group of Seven meeting of major industrial nations in Canada.
ANALYST’S TAKE: “Overnight market action suggests investor confidence is growing,” said Michael Mccarthy of CMC Markets in a report. He said overnight gains on reports that the ECB would review unwinding its stimulus indicated “belief that the economic drivers of higher interest rates were sufficiently strong to sustain asset prices.”
CURRENCIES: The euro rose to $1.1789 from $1.1775. The dollar halted its rise against the Japanese yen, weakening to 109.94 yen from 110.18 yen.
WALL STREET: U.S. stocks rallied for a fourth day. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index added 0.9 percent to 2,772.35. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 1.4 percent to 25,146.39. The Nasdaq composite rose 0.7 percent to 7,689.24. The Nasdaq has set records each of the last few days.
OIL: Benchmark U.S. crude added 22 cents to $64.95 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It shed 1.2 percent to settle at $64.73 the previous session. Brent crude, used to price international oils, gained 22 cents to $75.58 per barrel in London. The contract lost 2 cents on Wednesday to settle at $75.36. – AP