Asia shares buoyed by US data, dollar holds steady

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 14 May, 2013, 12:02pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 15 May, 2013, 8:02am


Asian shares were mostly higher on Tuesday, with the greenback holding on to its gains after better-than-expected US retail figures highlighted a steady recovery in the world’s largest economy.

Tokyo rose 0.24 per cent, Sydney gained 0.22 per cent, Hong Kong edged up 0.12 per cent but Shanghai was down 0.83 per cent. Seoul rose 1.00 per cent, with gains in South Korean car companies boosting the market.

Local auto giants -- which have been weak due to fears that a weaker yen would damage their competitiveness -- rose as the Japanese currency gained slightly, with Hyundai Motor adding 2.7 per cent in early trading.

An optimistic outlook for the US economy stirred Asian markets after the world’s largest economy reported a slight improvement in consumer spending for last month.

US retail sales in April were US$419.0 billion, up from US$418.7 billion the prior month, when sales dropped a revised 0.5 per cent, boosting the earnings outlook for Asian exporters.

Analysts had predicted a decline of 0.3 per cent as consumers dealt with a January 1 increase on payroll and other taxes.

Retail sales are a key indicator of consumer spending in the United States, the driver of roughly two-thirds of all US economic activity.

The April jobs report in early May also had come in stronger than expected. The US economy added 165,000 new positions and February and March job growth numbers were revised sharply higher.

Inflation data, which is due on Thursday, will be the next key data release from the US.

The dollar was at 101.67 yen in early Asian trade, down slightly from 101.82 yen in New York late Monday but still much higher than the 99-yen range a week earlier.

The greenback briefly breached the 102-yen level in Monday’s Asian trade on the back of speculation that the US Federal Reserve could be the first among major central banks to roll back its quantitative easing policy.

The strength of the dollar has been a dominant theme in currency trading in recent days as it gained against other currencies due to further signs of US recovery.

The euro fetched US$1.2984 and 132.02 yen against US$1.2975 and 132.11 yen in US trade.

US stocks traded largely flat Monday under the shadow of lower-than-expected growth in Chinese industrial output for April, which suggested a sluggish recovery in the world’s second-largest economy.

The S&P 500 managed to set a new closing record, but only on the back of an almost negligible 0.07 point gain from the previous mark Friday, ending at 1,633.77.

The narrower blue-chip Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 0.18 per cent to 15,091.68.

Oil rebounded in Asian trade, with New York’s main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in June gaining 24 cents to US$95.41 a barrel and Brent North Sea crude for June delivery rising 14 cents to US$102.96 in morning trade.

Gold was at US$1,440.30 at 0320 GMT compared with US$1,428.90 on Monday.