Asian Shares Higher; Shanghai Leads Gains

Australian stocks hit a fresh five-year high early on Monday, while China led regional gains, thanks to supportive comments from Beijing.

The Shanghai Composite  was up 1.1%, leading Asian markets higher, as sentiment was buoyed by hope of fresh measures from the government. The State Council on Sunday said that it will continue to deepen economic reform and transform the economy, pushing up technology stocks expected to benefit from new policies.

China National Software & Service  surged 10%, and Neusoft Corp.   jumped 5.1%.

More broadly across the region, markets continued to be buoyed by the positive news that pushed markets at the end of last week. Stocks were helped by a last-minute deal in the U.S. to avoid a debt default, lifting the tension brought about by the prolonged stalemate in Washington. At the end of the week, Chinese growth data supported the idea of stabilization in the region’s largest economy.

“We’ve cleared the worst of the macro hurdles with the U.S. fiscal deal last week and there doesn’t seem to be much on the horizon that could derail the rally,” said Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist at CMC Markets in Australia.

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200  was 0.6% higher at 5,353.90, after hitting a fresh five-year high of 5,366.10 earlier in the session. There were broad-based gains in both banks and miners: BHP Billiton   rose 1.2% and Australia and New Zealand Banking Group   added 0.9%.

The yen  weakened early in the session after Japan posted a ¥932.1 billion ($9.5 billion) trade deficit in September, the 15th consecutive month of deficit. The dollar was at ¥97.96, compared with ¥97.76 late Friday in New York.

The softer yen supported Japanese stocks, with the Nikkei Average  up 0.5%.

Elsewhere across the region, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index  rose 0.6%, but South Korea’s Kospi  dropped 0.1%, and the Philippines’ PSE Composite   lost 0.2%.

In addition, sentiment was helped by the S&P 500  closing at a record high Friday on Wall Street. Events on the horizon this week include the U.S. monthly labor report on Tuesday and preliminary October manufacturing data for China on Thursday.

Hutchison Whampoa    dropped 2.8% in Hong Kong after the firm removed its supermarket chain ParknShop from the market. Instead, Hutchison is considering a plan for an initial public offering of another of its retail units, A.S. Watson & Co.

In Japan, stocks were reacting to earnings news with LIXIL Group Corp.   climbing 2.5% after a Nikkei report said that the building-products firm is expected to report an 80% year-on-year jump in consolidated operating profit for the six months ended September.

Also in Tokyo, shares in clothes firm United Arrows  added 2% after a different Nikkei report said that the firm’s group operating profit for the fiscal half year ended September will be mostly in line with guidance.

Source : Marketwatch

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