Asian markets climbed on Thursday after China released better-than-expected trade data that provide further evidence the world’s number two economy has emerged from a drawn-out slumber.
The Nikkei in Japan was also boosted by the continued weakness of the yen, while a rally on Wall Street capped a two-day losing streak and provided extra impetus to Asian buyers.
Tokyo climbed 0.94 per cent by the break, Hong Kong jumped 0.98 per cent and Shanghai advanced 0.61 per cent, while Seoul was up 0.50 per cent and Sydney gained 0.38 per cent.
China said its trade surplus surged 48.1 per cent to US$231.1 billion in 2012 from the previous year, helped by a 7.9 per cent rise in exports, while imports increased 4.3 per cent.
Customs bureau spokesman Zheng Yuesheng said last year’s performance came ”despite a sharply slowing world economic recovery, weak international market demand and rather big downside pressure on the domestic economy”.
The figures are the latest in a string of data in recent months that indicate the world’s second biggest economy has finally turned a corner after seven straight months of slowing growth.
Beijing’s export-driven economy has been buffeted by the long-running debt crisis in Europe and ongoing uncertainty in the United States, both crucial markets for China’s products.
The trade figures are the first of a batch of indicators from Beijing, with inflation results due Friday and closely watched gross domestic product figures expected on Sunday.
In Tokyo, exporters were higher owing to the weaker yen, spurred by expectations for fresh monetary easing by the Bank of Japan as well as promises by the new government to boost spending.
The dollar rose to 88.08 yen in early Asian trade, from 87.86 yen in New York late Wednesday, while the euro climbed to 114.94 yen from 114.77 yen.
The single currency eased to US$1.3047 from US$1.3061.
On Wall Street the Dow rose 0.46 per cent, the S&P 500 added 0.27 per cent and the Nasdaq Composite jumped 0.45 per cent.
However, investors remain wary as the US corporate earnings season gets under way.
Oil prices were mixed, with New York’s main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in February, gaining three cents to US$93.13 a barrel while Brent North Sea crude for February delivery dropped 11 cents to US$111.65.
Gold was at US$1,656.50 at 0230 GMT compared with US$1,663.68 late Wednesday.