HONG KONG: Asian markets rallied Wednesday in the first full day of trade since the Easter weekend, with Hong Kong surging as it reacted for the first time to weak US jobs data that reduced the chances of a rate hike any time soon.
With investors awaiting the release of minutes from the Federal Reserve’s latest policy decision and the Japanese central bank holding its monthly meeting, the dollar is edging back up after taking a hit from Friday’s below-forecast jobs report.
Oil prices ticked lower on profit-taking in Asia after climbing Tuesday to their highest level of 2015.
Hong Kong, which has been closed since Thursday’s session, jumped 1.87 percent, Tokyo climbed 0.36 percent, Shanghai added 0.38 percent, Sydney advanced 0.54 percent and Seoul was up 0.52 percent.
The news out of the Labor Department that the US economy created fewer jobs in March than it had for more than a year lifted spirits that rates will be kept low through summer.
The next point of focus is the release later Wednesday of minutes from the Fed meeting, with dealers poring over them for clues about when the bank plans to announce a rise.
While the jobs result sent the dollar tumbling at first, it has recovered in recent days.
In Asia early Wednesday the dollar bought 120.21 yen, slightly down from 120.32 yen in New York Tuesday but well above the low-119 yen range seen in Tokyo at the start of the week.
“The general demand for risk assets and specific appetite for US dollars in the last 48 hours tells us that investors have dismissed the soft release as a one-month correction that will not affect the Federal Reserve’s plans to tighten,” said Kathy Lien of BK Asset Management.
The euro inched up to $1.0835 and 130.24 yen from $1.0813 and 130.11 yen in US trade.
The single currency is struggling as Greece faces a Thursday deadline for its next bailout repayment to the International Monetary Fund.
Eurozone deputy finance ministers will meet on Wednesday and Thursday to seek agreement on Athens’ reforms needed to unlock the last tranche of its multibillion-dollar bailout and avert a default.
On Wall Street Tuesday the Dow edged down 0.03 percent, the S&P 500 dropped 0.21 percent and the Nasdaq fell 0.14 percent.
Oil prices retreated from their 2015 highs that came on easing worries that Iranian crude will flood the market soon after last week’s nuclear deal with the West. Also providing support was news that Saudi Arabia had raised prices for Asia citing increased demand.
US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for May delivery fell 92 cents to $53.06 a barrel in morning Asian trade and Brent crude for May dropped 71 cents to $58.39.
On Tuesday WTI rose $1.84 and Brent was up 98 cents.
Gold fetched $1,210.62 against $1,212.72 late Tuesday.