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Robust US retail sales lift Asian shares

Oct 16 2012 07:52

A man checks the figures on an electronic stock board of a securities firm in Tokyo, Japan. (Koji Sasahara, AP) (Koji Sasahara)

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Hong Kong - Asian markets rose on Tuesday in response to a strong showing on Wall Street after another round of upbeat data lifted hopes for the US economy.

But dealers also remained hesitant ahead of the release this week of Chinese third-quarter growth figures, as evidence accumulates of a slowdown in the world's second-biggest economy.

In Japan, telecoms giant Softbank surged by more than 10%, clawing back some of its huge losses in the previous two sessions, after formally announcing it will buy US wireless provider Nextel Sprint for $20bn.

Tokyo rose 0.94% by the break, Hong Kong added 0.13% in morning trade, Sydney gained 0.22%, Shanghai was up 0.10% and Seoul climbed 0.36%.

Trade got off to a positive start with the news out of Washington that retail sales, the main driver of the US economy, had unexpectedly risen 1.1% in September.

The Commerce Department also revised up retail sales for July and August, and said that even excluding volatile data on vehicles and petrol, sales were still up 0.9% last month.

Helping the mood on Wall Street, banking giant Citigroup reported an 88% drop in third-quarter profit, much better than had been forecast.

The Dow gained 0.72%, its biggest jump in more than a month, while the S&P 500 rose 0.81% and the Nasdaq added 0.66%.

On currency markets the euro was trading higher thanks to an improved appetite for risk. In early Asian trade it was buying $1.2963, up from $1.2950 late on Monday in New York, while it also rose to ¥102.17 from ¥101.89.

The dollar stood at ¥78.80, up slightly from ¥78.66 in New York.

The main focus of interest this week is on China, which is to release on Thursday its growth figures for July-September, with many hoping for an improvement on recent data that have shown a marked slowdown.

Hopes were given a boost at the weekend by trade figures that showed China's exports surged almost 10% last month.

Also Thursday, the European Union holds a summit, with a possible bailout for Spain on the agenda along with Greece's push to renegotiate its own rescue deal.

Reports indicate that Athens could be given more time to repay its huge debts, following comments from International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde in Tokyo that an extra two years would be acceptable.

Softbank surged 10.76% after the Japanese company confirmed it would take 70% of Sprint Nextel, the number-three US cellphone carrier, in the biggest-ever overseas acquisition by a Japanese firm.

The bounced followed a dive of more than 20% in the previous two days after the firm said it was in talks over a buyout.

"It's official now," a senior strategist at a Japanese brokerage told Dow Jones Newswires. "Some buyback is likely."

Oil was mixed. New York's main contract, light sweet crude for November delivery, shed 22 cents to $91.63 a barrel but Brent North Sea crude for November delivery added six cents to $115.86.

Gold was at $1 735.90 at 03:00 GMT compared with $1 745.05 late on Monday.




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