Asian markets sharply higher

2012-09-07 07:50

Hong Kong - Asian markets surged on Friday after European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi unveiled a plan to buy the bonds of troubled eurozone nations in a bid to tackle the region's long-running debt crisis.

The bullish sentiment fuelled by Draghi's announcement was increased by US data showing many more jobs than expected were created in the private sector last month, lifting hopes for the world's number one economy.

Tokyo surged 1.75% by the break, Hong Kong jumped 1.81%, Shanghai rose 2.00%, Sydney gained 0.58% and Seoul rallied 2.10%.

Draghi said Thursday the ECB would buy unlimited amounts of debt from troubled nations such as Spain and Italy in order to lower their cost of borrowing and help them get back on their feet - a scheme named "Outright Monetary Transactions".

The OMTs "will enable us to address severe distortions in government bond markets which originate from, in particular, unfounded fears on the part of investors of the reversibility of the euro", Draghi said.

"We will do whatever it takes" to keep the eurozone together, he added.

However, he said the purchases would depend on those countries asking for bailout cash and agreeing to undertake economic reforms.

The announcement "exceeded market expectations, which hasn't happened for a long time," said Dariusz Kowalczyk, senior economist and strategist at Credit Agricole in Hong Kong.

"It draws a line, for a while at least, under the issue of peripheral European debt," he told Dow Jones Newswires.

The euro rallied in New York after the news, surging to a two-month high of $1.2652 at one point before ending Thursday at $1.2629.

In early Tokyo trade it bought $1.2631. It also rose to ¥99.64 in Tokyo, from ¥99.60 late on Thursday. Before Draghi's plan the common currency fetched $1.2629 and ¥99.05.

The dollar also rose on Friday, to ¥78.89 from ¥78.85 late on Thursday.

In the United States figures from payrolls company ADP Thursday showed private-sector employment rising by 201 000 in August, after an upwardly revised July gain of 173 000.

The jobs number was well above the average forecast of 143 000, and showed a strong increase of 29 000 in the key service sector from July, to 185 000.

Also lifting sentiment were figures from the Institute for Supply Management Thursday showing its monthly purchasing managers index for the services sector rose to 53.7 from 52.6 in July, scotching worries of a downturn. A reading above 50 indicates growth.

On Wall Street the Dow climbed 1.87% and the S&P 500 advanced 2.04% - both to their highest levels since December 2007. The Nasdaq surged 2.17%.

Eyes are now on non-farm payrolls data to be released later on Friday, which traders said were also "pointing to quite a strong read as well".

New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in October slipped 76 cents to $94.77 a barrel and Brent North Sea crude for October delivery shed 81 cents to $112.68.

Gold was at $1 692.75 at 02:50 GMT compared with $1 708.24 on Thursday.

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