Asian markets were mostly exuberant on Thursday, after major U.S. indexes had a banner session, hitting record highs overnight, and as forecast-beating China trade data buoyed sentiment.
Down Under, the ASX 200 climbed 1.21 percent, with its materials sub-index up 1.58 percent and the financials sub-index up 1.72 percent. Australia reported trade balance data for October, with a deficit of 1.541 billion Australian dollars ($1.2 billion), wider than the A$800 million gap forecast.
Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 jumped 0.86 percent, slipping from gains more than 1 percent earlier as the yen strengthened. The dollar/yen was trading at 113.31 as of 12:15 pm HK/SIN, compared with levels around 114 yesterday.
Japan’s third-quarter economic growth was revised down to 1.3 percent year-on-year, from the preliminary reading of 2.2 percent. A Reuters poll of economists had expected growth to be revised up to 2.4 percent.
Sony was up 2.16 percent at 3,268 yen, after the Japanese conglomerate said late on Wednesday that it would release eleven new smartphone games in Japan next year, and introduce companion gadgets.
SoftBank’s stock gained 4.98 percent to 7,758 yen, as investors continued to cheer news on Tuesday thatSoftBank CEO met up with U.S. President-elect Donald Trump and pledged to invest $50 billion in the U.S.
Elsewhere, South Korea’s Kospi was up 1.24 percent, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng jumped 0.65 percent.
Hong Kong-listed HSBC was up 0.69 percent at $65.95, easing off a 16-month high at HK$67.25. The stock shot up 6 percent on Wednesday. Morgan Stanley upgraded the banking stock to an overweight rating with a target price of HK$64 on Tuesday, citing an improved revenue outlook as a Federal Reserve rate hike would benefit most Hong Kong banks.
The probability of a Fed move in December is at 92.7 percent, according to CME Group 30-Day Fed Fund futures.
China’s November dollar-denominated imports grew 6.7 percent, the fastest pace of annualized growth since September 2013, while exports were up 0.1 percent in dollar terms. A Reuters poll of analysts had expected November exports to have fallen 5 percent from the previous year, while imports were forecast to drop 6.2 percent.
The trade data had missed the expected release time by several hours.
Chinese shares were lower, with the Shanghai composite down 0.05 percent and the Shenzhen composite off 0.232 percent.
Overnight, the Dow Jones industrial average closed up 1.55 percent at 19,549.62, the 12th all-time high close since the U.S. election. The S&P 500 rose 1.32 percent to 2,241.35, also a record close, and the Nasdaq composite finished up 1.14 percent at 5,393.76.
During Asian trade, U.S. crude futures were up 0.26 percent at $49.90 a barrel and Brent futures traded up 0.06 percent at $53.03. Oil prices came under pressure on Wednesday in the U.S. from bearish U.S. crude inventory data and doubts that the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and Russia would come through with the promised output cuts.
The European Central Bank’s interest rate decision was also due later in the day, when the central bank is expected to announce a six-month extension to its bond-buying program.
The euro was fetching $1.0776 as of 12:18 pm HK/SIN, ahead of the ECB decision. One week earlier, it was hovering at around $1.066.
“The big question is whether there will be an ECB surprise that triggers the same 4-cent (400 basis point) move in euro/dollar that we saw in December 2015,” Kathy Lien, managing director of FX strategy at BK Asset Management, said in a note on Thursday.
Lien said the market was looking to see if the central bank would scale back its asset purchases, and if it did, there would be pressure on the euro/dollar.
The dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of currencies, was tradng 100.03 as of 12:18 pm HK/SIN, below 101 levels seen last week.