Asia markets rise on hopes for central bank action

Asian markets mostly rose Tuesday and the euro firmed on hopes that central banks in the United States and Europe would take action to boost their sluggish economies after a stream of negative data.

Regional bourses shrugged off a lacklustre performance on Wall Street, with investors banking on the Federal Reserve taking stimulus measures after the release of weak US manufacturing data and the ECB cutting rates on Thursday.

Tokyo closed up 0.70 percent, or 63.11 points, at 9,066.59, and Seoul ended 0.87 percent, or 16.17 points, higher at 1,867.82.

Hong Kong closed up 1.51 percent, or 294.07 points, at 19,735.53, buoyed by the central bank speculation but also tracking gains on US and European markets late last week after being closed for a public holiday on Monday.

Shanghai edged up 0.14 percent, or 3.08 points, to end at 2,229.19.

Sydney finished down 0.14 percent, or 5.80 points, at 4,127.2, although analysts said a central bank decision to keep interest rates on hold at 3.50 percent after two recent cuts had little effect on the market.

The euro edged up against the dollar and yen, as investors focused on Thursday's European Central Bank meeting after poor eurozone data raised hopes of a cut in the main interest rate from the current record low of 1.0 percent.

"Expectations for a rate cut by the ECB are rising, with the market starting to factor in that possibility," said Credit Suisse chief equity strategist Masaru Ohnishi.

On Monday in the United States, data from the Institute for Supply Management showed manufacturing contracted for the first time in almost three years in June.

But US stocks finished mixed as hopes rose that the latest weak economic report from the world's biggest economy might spur the Fed into a third round of monetary stimulus known as quantitative easing.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.07 percent, while the S&P 500 index advanced 0.25 percent and the tech-rich Nasdaq gained 0.55 percent.

Investors were also looking ahead to Friday, when the US government releases its highly anticipated June job growth and unemployment numbers.

In Europe, data showed unemployment across the 17-nation eurozone at a euro-era high of 11.1 percent while manufacturing purchasing managers indices continued to show activity contracting, though some PMIs exceeded expectations.

World stock markets and the euro leapt last week after European leaders agreed to use emergency funds to support ailing banks directly and to ease pressure on governments' debt burdens through bond purchases, if necessary.

They also agreed to contribute $150 billion to boost growth.

On currency markets in early European trade, the euro was at $1.2589 and 100.50 yen, edging up from $1.2582 and 100.05 yen in New York late Monday.

The dollar edged up to 79.83 yen, from 79.50 yen.

Oil prices rebounded in afternoon Asian trade on bargain hunting after an earlier fall sparked by slumping manufacturing output in the world's major economies, analysts said.

New York's main contract, light sweet crude for August delivery, rose 82 cents to $84.57 a barrel and Brent North Sea crude for delivery in August was 96 cents higher at $98.30.

Gold rose to $1,609.00 an ounce at 1115 GMT, compared with $1,590.52 an ounce late Monday.

In other markets:

-- Taipei rose 1.0 percent, or 73.2 points, to 7,418.36.

Hon Hai Precision rose 1.69 percent to Tw$90.5 while Chunghwa Telecom was 0.85 percent higher at Tw$94.7.

-- Wellington was up 0.13 percent, or 4.47 points, to 3,444.63.

Fletcher Building was up 2.3 percent at NZ$6.20, Air New Zealand rose 1.7 percent to NZ$0.895 and Telecom Corp. was off 0.8 percent at NZ$2.43.

-- Manila was up 1.23 percent, or 65.46 points, at 5,365.70.

Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. gained 1.62 percent to 2,760 pesos while Metropolitan Bank and Trust rose 2.74 percent to 97.45 pesos.

-- Singapore closed up 1.19 percent, or 34.74 points, to 2,945.33.

United Overseas Bank gained 1.97 percent to Sg$19.16 and Singapore Airlines added 0.48 percent to Sg$10.48.

-- Jakarta rose 1.46 percent, or 58.35 points, to close at 4,049.89.

Telekomunikasi Indonesia gained 3.09 percent to 8,350 rupiah, Timah rose 1.38 percent to 1,470 rupiah and Astra Agro Lestari added 3.94 percent to 21,100 rupiah.

-- Kuala Lumpur stocks ended 0.43 percent, or 6.89 points, higher at 1,607.74.

Telekom Malaysia gained 0.35 percent to 5.69 ringgit, while financial firm CIMB Group Holdings inched up 1.99 percent to 7.70. Malayan Banking lost 0.11 percent to 8.70 ringgit.

-- Bangkok rose 0.78 percent, or 9.33 points, to 1,198.07.

Banpu gained 0.43 percent to 468.00 baht, while PTT added 0.91 percent to 333.00 baht.

-- Mumbai rose 0.15 percent, or 26.73 points, to 17,425.71.

India's biggest mobile phone firm Bharti Airtel rose 3.11 percent to 319.5 rupees while aluminium producer Hindalco rose 2.27 percent to 123.85.

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