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Asia: Stocks follow US higher before China data, Aussie rates

[SYDNEY] Asian stocks rebounded from a three-week low after gains in US shares, with investors awaiting a private gauge of Chinese manufacturing and a finely balanced interest-rate decision in Australia.

The MSCI Asia Pacific excluding Japan Index gained 0.2 per cent to 416.13 as of 9:31 am in Hong Kong, with markets shut in Tokyo through Thursday. The Hang Seng Index slipped 0.4 per cent and the Shanghai Composite Index added 0.2 per cent.

The S&P 500 posted its steepest advance in two weeks Monday as banks rebounded and Amazon.com Inc jumped.

"The markets are telling us that the world is not coming unglued," Ted Weisberg, president of Seaport Securities Corp, told Bloomberg TV in New York.

"As long as interest rates stay where they are, the dollar stays weak, commodity prices will do better and the markets should be OK even though it's a little scary."

Global stocks advanced on the first trading day of May, following a week that saw risk assets shunned amid speculation central banks from Asia to Europe won't rush to add to unprecedented stimulus.

The Federal Reserve struck a more hawkish tone with its policy statement last week, even as signs mount that the rate of US economic growth continues to slow, weighing on the dollar.

Australia's S&P/ASX 200 Index rose 0.9 per cent with the government due to unveil its annual budget just hours after the central bank's policy announcement at 2:30 pm Sydney time.

Just under half of the economists surveyed predict the Reserve Bank of Australia will cut its already record-low interest rate.

New Zealand's S&P/NZX 50 Index added 0.6 per cent. South Korea's Kospi index rose 0.2 per cent, while Singapore's Straits Times Index lost 0.8 per cent. Taiwan's Taiex index fell 0.9 per cent.

The Caixin China manufacturing purchasing managers' index comes after the release of an official index at the weekend.

Futures on the S&P 500 index were little changed after the underlying gauge rose 0.8 per cent Monday. Halliburton Co. added 1.8 per cent and Baker Hughes Inc fell 2 per cent after ditching their US$28 billion merger.

More than 115 of S&P 500 companies, including Pfizer Inc, Priceline Group Inc and Whole Foods Market Inc are scheduled to report earnings this week.

BLOOMBERG