Asia: Stocks mostly up after weak US data tame rate talk

[HONG KONG] Asian markets mostly rose Friday following a surge on Wall Street after unexpectedly weak US data tempered talk of an interest rate hike by summer.

Despite the easing rate expectations, the dollar maintained its strength against the yen and euro after retreating slightly from multi-year highs Thursday.

Tokyo jumped 1.08 per cent, Hong Kong added 0.11 per cent, Seoul gained 0.88 per cent and Shanghai put on 0.30 per cent but Sydney eased 0.62 per cent.

The broad gains across the region followed Thursday's bargain hunting-filled advances and top off a tough week for global investors after last Friday's strong US jobs report ratcheted up speculation about a Federal Reserve rate hike.

US markets, which by Wednesday had lost all their 2015 gains, surged on Thursday after data showed retail sales fell for the third straight month in February as severe winter weather gripped large parts of the country.

Retail and food services sales fell 0.6 per cent from January, confounding forecasts of 0.4 per cent growth.

The figures "provide the Fed with a well-rounded view of the prospects for the US economy and may prompt a desire to wait until fresh data is released which is not impacted by distortions," Matthew Sherwood, head of investment markets research in Sydney at Perpetual Ltd, told Bloomberg News.

The Dow jumped 1.47 per cent, the S&P 500 added 1.26 per cent and the Nasdaq added 0.89 per cent.

The Fed holds its latest policy meeting next week and dealers will be looking to see what it says about its plans for interest rates in light of the latest data.

On currency markets the dollar remained strong. It traded at 121.42 yen, compared with 121.29 yen.

The euro changed hands at US$1.0614 and 128.87 yen against $1.0636 and 129.00 yen in New York.

Oil prices rebounded in Asia after retreating Thursday in response to figures showing US stockpiles were at a record high, adding to worries about a global supply glut.

US benchmark West Texas Intermediate was up 12 cents at US$47.17 a barrel and Brent climbed 14 cents to US$57.22.

Gold fetched US$1,158.71 against US$1,159.90 late Thursday.


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