Asian markets edge higher on Wall St lead

April 30, 2012
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Tokyo closed up 0.52 percent/AFP
Hong Kong, Apr 30 – Asian markets rose in early trade on Monday, following a positive lead from Wall Street as dealers look ahead to the release of key economic data and European elections over the next week.

Hong Kong climbed 1.11 percent, Sydney gained 0.60 percent and Seoul put on 0.20 percent while Wellington added 0.70 percent.

Tokyo and Shanghai were closed for public holidays.

With no catalysts to drive buying in Asia traders looked to Wall Street, which saw its three main indexes close in the green thanks to a strong earnings report from online retail giant Amazon, which said sales in the January-March quarter soared 34 percent.

The Dow added 0.18 percent, the S&P 500 advanced 0.24 percent and the Nasdaq rose 0.61 percent.

Markets seemed to shrug off figures showing the world’s biggest economy grew at a slower pace than forecast in the first quarter, with analysts pointing out that personal consumption — the biggest contributor to growth — rose more than expected.

Washington released data showing growth of 2.2 percent in the January-March period, well down from the 3.0 percent chalked up in the previous three months and below predictions varying from 2.5 percent to 3.2 percent expansion.

On currency markets the euro bought $1.3236 in early Asian trade, down from $1.3258 on Friday. The European currency also lost ground against the Japanese yen, falling to 106.25 yen from 106.61 yen.

The dollar was at 80.27 yen from 80.29 yen on Friday.

Eyes will be on several events through the week, including Chinese manufacturing data, US jobs figures, a policy decision by the European Central Bank and the presidential election run-off in France.

“The non-farm payroll number in the US will be in focus on Friday, after which the market will turn its attention to French and Greek elections on Sunday. Cautiousness will be the watchword for the week and risk aversion is unlikely to go lower meaningfully,” Credit Agricole in a note to clients.

On oil markets New York’s main contract, West Texas Intermediate crude for delivery in June was down 21 cents to $104.72 per barrel while Brent North Sea crude for June shed 25 cents to $119.58 in morning trade.

Gold was at $1,663.90 an ounce at 0300 GMT, compared with $1,655.50 late Friday.

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