Asia Markets: Japan and South Korea reported unexpectedly strong economic data, as Asian stocks rise

United States

BEIJING (AP) — Asian stock markets followed Wall Street higher Thursday after Japan and South Korea reported unexpectedly strong economic data and President Joe Biden announced a $ 2.3 trillion U.S. infrastructure spending plan.

Market benchmarks in Shanghai, Tokyo, Hong Kong and Sydney advanced.

Japan’s closely watched Tankan survey found business conditions improved more than expected. South Korea reported higher March export growth. House prices rose in New Zealand and Australian manufacturing expanded.

“Asia-Pacific released a lot of data today, including Japan’s latest Tankan survey. Most of it was positive,” Robert Carnell of ING said in a report.

Biden announced plans to spend on broadband internet and clean energy, roads, bridges and public transit. The plan would roll back corporate tax cuts enacted under his predecessor, Donald Trump.

There was little market reaction because “investors appear to have already priced in” the spending and taxes, said Edward Moya of Oanda in a report.

The Shanghai Composite Index SHCOMP, +0.71% rose 0.3% to 3,451.64 and the Nikkei 225 NIK, +0.72% in Tokyo advanced 0.7% to 29,385.85. The Hang Seng HSI, +1.52% in Hong Kong added 1% to 28,655.42.

The Kospi in Seoul was 0.7% higher at 3,081.68 while Sydney’s S&P-ASX 200 gained 0.6% to 6,828.60.

India’s Sensex opened up less than 0.1% at 49,527.39. New Zealand and Jakarta declined while Singapore and Bangkok advanced.

Investors are swinging between optimism that coronavirus vaccines will allow business to return to normal and unease about rising infections in the United States and some European countries. That has prompted some to reimpose travel curbs.

In Japan, the Tankan index of business conditions for large manufacturers rose into positive territory for the first time since 2019.

That “supports our view that the economy’s recovery from the pandemic will gather pace again soon,” said Tom Learmouth of Capital Economics in a report.

South Korea reported March export growth accelerated to 16.6% over a year earlier from the previous month’s 9.5%.

On Wall Street, the benchmark S&P 500 index rose 0.4% on Wednesday to 3,972.89. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 0.3% to 32,981.55. The Nasdaq composite climbed 1.5%, to 13,246.87.

Technology stocks powered much of S&P 500’s latest gains, even though more stocks in the index fell than rose. Apple, Microsoft and chipmaker Nvidia rose while financial, energy and materials stocks declined.

The 10-year Treasury yield TMUBMUSD10Y, 1.715% inched up to 1.74%, close to its highest level since before the pandemic rocked markets a year ago. Vaccinations and government spending plans have raised expectations for supercharged economic growth and a possible rise in inflation, which has pushed yields higher.

In energy markets, benchmark U.S. crude rose 37 cents to $ 59.53 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell $ 1.39 on Wednesday to $ 59.16. Brent crude, the price basis for international oils, added 34 cents to $ 63.08 per barrel in London. It lost 60 cents the previous session to $ 63.54.

The dollar was little changed at 110.74 yen. The euro declined to $ 1.1717 from $ 1.1727.