News Column

Asian stocks higher after record Dow close

June 1, 2014

YURI KAGEYAMA, AP Business Writer



TOKYO (AP) Asian stock markets advanced Monday after two Wall Street benchmarks hit record highs and investors waited for a U.S. jobs report later in the week for confirmation of optimism about the American economy.

Trading in the region is expected to be relatively subdued with markets closed for holidays in mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and New Zealand.

Japan'sNikkei 225 was up 2.1 percent at 14,940.96 in afternoon trading after the yen weakened to about 102 to the dollar. Weakness in the yen is typically a boost for the share prices of Japan's export giants.

South Korea's Kospi inched up 0.4 percent to 2,002.00 and Australia's S&P/ASX 200 added 0.5 percent to 5,518.10. Markets in Southeast Asia were mostly higher.

Sentiment was underpinned by the Dow and S&P 500 both closing at new highs on Friday.

Traders and investors are watching for two events later this week, including the May U.S. jobs report to be released Friday.

Economists expect the U.S. economy created 220,000 jobs in May, and the unemployment rate fell to 6.3 percent, according to FactSet, a financial information provider.

The European Central Bank will have its interest rate policy meeting Thursday, although the impact on markets might not be great as expectations for monetary easing are already factored in.

Koji Takeuchi, a senior economist at Mizuho Research Institute in Tokyo, said investors are also anticipating the announcement of Japanese government policies later this month that are expected to include corporate tax cuts, a possible boon for Japanese companies and the economy.

"The growth strategies are going to have a positive impact," he said. The Nikkei bottomed out at about 14,000 points in May and is now heading to 15,000, he said.

The Dow rose 18.43 points, or 0.1 percent, to close at 16,717.17 on Friday, less than two points above its previous record high set on May 13.

The S&P 500 index rose 3.54 points, or 0.2 percent, to 1,923.57, also closing at a record. The only index to fall was the Nasdaq composite, which ended down 5.33 points, or 0.1 percent, to 4,242.62.

May was the best month for U.S. investors since February. The S&P rose 2.1 percent for the month, while the Dow rose 0.8 percent and the Nasdaq rose 3.1 percent.

Takuya Takahashi, senior strategist at Daiwa Securities Co. in Tokyo, said trading may grow more cautious toward the end of the week ahead of the ECB meeting and the U.S. jobs data, but Tokyo shares were likely to head higher over time.

"The rise may take a day or it may take a week, but it is going up in a natural way," he said. "The perception is becoming more widespread that Tokyo shares are a good deal."

In energy markets, benchmark U.S. oil for July delivery was up 56 cents at $103.27 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 87 cents to close at $102.71 on Friday.

The euro was little changed at $1.3635 from $1.3634 late Friday. The dollar rose to 101.96 yen from 101.80 yen.


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Source: Associated Press


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