Asian markets mostly rose Wednesday as data showed China’s economy grew more than expected in the first three months of the year, adding to a broadly upbeat mood on trading floors.
Beijing said the world’s number two economy and a key driver of global growth expanded 6.4 percent in January-March, the same as the previous quarter but better than forecast by analysts in an AFP poll.
The data follows a number of readings indicating stability in China, with factory activity, exports, new loans and inflation all improving — tempering concerns about a slowdown that could have a major impact on the world economy.
There were also better-than-expected increases in retail sales and investment.
Observers put the uptick down to government stimulus including huge tax cuts and measures to make it easier for banks to lend.
“Overall, this confirms that China’s economic growth is bottoming out and this momentum is likely to continue going into months ahead with (a) recent surge in credit growth and a possible agreement between the US and China on trade issues,” said Tai Hui, chief market strategist for Asia-Pacific at JP Morgan Asset Management.
“From Beijing’s perspective, this set of data should show that the policy reset in mid-2018 from de-leverage to growth support is starting to yield results.”
Shanghai rose 0.3 percent, Tokyo ended 0.3 percent higher, while Singapore gained 0.4 percent, with Wellington, Taipei, Bangkok and Manila all up.
However, Hong Kong was slightly lower with analysts pointing out that the improvement could keep policymakers from building on the stimulus tweaks that have provided much-needed economic support. Sydney eased 0.3 percent and Seoul slipped 0.1 percent.
Beijing’s figures were “providing some relief that the slowdown in the world’s second-largest economy is not as bad as feared,” said Neil Wilson, chief market analyst at Markets.com. “The latest… numbers give cause for hope.”
World markets have enjoyed a strong run-up this year, fuelled by growing optimism that China and the United States will hammer out a deal to end their long-running trade war that blighted markets at the end of 2018.
Markets had been given a positive lead by Wall Street, where investors cheered another round of healthy earnings that have raised hopes for the rest of the reporting season.
Forex traders took the opportunity to push into higher-yielding, riskier assets.
The dollar dipped against the euro and pound as well as the Australian dollar, Mexican peso and South African rand, among others.
But it was up against the Japanese yen, which is considered the safe bet in times of turmoil.
On oil markets the commodity extended Tuesday’s gains after an industry group reported a surprise decline in US stockpiles while OPEC-led output cuts and US sanctions on Iran and Venezuela kept a supply glut in check.
In early trade London fell 0.1 percent, while Paris and Frankfurt were flat.
– Key figures around 0810 GMT –
Tokyo – Nikkei 225: UP 0.3 percent at 22,277.97 (close)
Hong Kong – Hang Seng: FLAT at 30,124.68 (close)
Shanghai – Composite: UP 0.3 percent at 3,263.12 (close)
London – FTSE 100: DOWN 0.1 percent at 7,463.84
Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.3055 from $1.3048 at 2100 GMT
Euro/pound: UP at 86.71 pence from 86.45 pence
Euro/dollar: UP at $1.1320 from $1.1281
Dollar/yen: UP at 112.03 yen from 112.00 yen
Oil – West Texas Intermediate: UP 44 cents at $64.49 per barrel
Oil – Brent Crude: UP 30 cents at $72.02 per barrel
New York – Dow: UP 0.3 percent at 26,452.66 (close)
© Agence France-Presse