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Asian markets lifted by US data

Nov 02 2012 07:50 AFP

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Hong Kong - A string of upbeat data from the US and a rally on Wall Street boosted Asian markets on Friday, while growing confidence in the global outlook saw dealers sell the safe-haven yen.

The latest statistics from Washington follow data out of Asia earlier Thursday that showed manufacturing slowly picking up, with China seeming to have come to the end of its recent malaise.

Tokyo jumped 1.31% by the break, Hong Kong climbed 1.23%, Sydney gained 0.17%, and Seoul rose 1.06%, but Shanghai was off 0.10% after surging on Thursday.

Wall Street's three main indexes saw healthy gains on Thursday, their second day back after a two-day closure caused by superstorm Sandy, thanks to a bright batch of indicators that suggest the economy is gaining strength.

The US Conference Board index of consumer confidence for October rose to a better-than-forecast 72.2 in October, from a revised 68.4 in September, pointing to a pick-up in the crucial manufacturing sector.

Also, the Labour Department said weekly jobless claims continued their decline, falling a modest 9 000 to 363 000 last week - below the four-week moving trend of 367 250.

That provided hopes for closely-watched non-farm payrolls results due out of Washington later on Friday, with expectations for another rise in job creation.

And the auto industry said sales continued to climb in October, even as Hurricane Sandy curbed sales on the heavily populated northeastern coast in the last three days of the month.

Meanwhile the Institute for Supply Management said its purchasing managers index (PMI) for the industrial sector rose to 51.7 from September's 51.5 reading.

Anything above 50 points to growth while anything below is contraction.

The news sent US stocks higher. The Dow finished 1.04% up, the S&P 500 rose 1.09% and the Nasdaq gained 1.44%.

The manufacturing figures followed a similar trend in China, where the official PMI swung back above 50 for the first time in three months, while a separate one by HSBC also showed an improvement, raising hopes for the world's number two economy.

There were also signs of life in PMIs from India, Indonesia, Taiwan and South Korea.

With confidence on the up, dealers moved out of the safe haven yen on currency markets.

In early trade, the euro bought ¥103.79, up from ¥103.69 in New York late on Thursday, while it was also at $1.2929 from $1.2940.

The dollar rose to ¥80.26 against ¥80.13.

However, despite the improved economic numbers traders remained concerned about a flurry of downbeat corporate results, with Japan's Panasonic and Sharp warning of huge losses for this fiscal year.

And in Europe, the International Monetary Fund warned that negotiations between Greece and international lenders for desperately-needed rescue funds are stuck, stoking new concerns over Athens' future in the eurozone.

Oil prices were mixed, with New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in December falling 21 cents to $86.88 a barrel while Brent North Sea crude for December delivery gained six cents to $108.23.

Gold was at $1 712.20 at 03:10 GMT compared with $1 723.19 late on Thursday.

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