Oil's climb, US data lift Asian markets

An investor stands in front of a screen showing stock market movements in a securities firm in Fuyang, China, on March 2, 2016.
An investor stands in front of a screen showing stock market movements in a securities firm in Fuyang, China, on March 2, 2016. PHOTO: AFP

A continued climb in oil prices overnight, coupled with encouraging economic data from the United States and speculation of more stimulus measures from China, helped Asian shares extend their gains yesterday.

The cheerier mood sent Shanghai and Tokyo up 4 per cent each, while Hong Kong rose 3 per cent, Sydney climbed 2 per cent and Seoul jumped 1.6 per cent.

Singapore's benchmark Straits Times Index added 44.57 points, or 1.66 per cent, to 2,726.96.

The jubilant mood on the trading floors followed an equally buoyant night on Wall Street, which was lifted by a rise in crude prices following news that Russian oil companies have agreed not to raise production this year.

DBS chief investment officer Lim Say Boon said that the outcome of primary elections on Super Tuesday, with Mr Donald Trump dominating among Republicans and Mrs Hillary Clinton leading the Democratic field, also helped.

"It's not that the markets like Trump, but they had expected him," Mr Lim wrote in a note yesterday.

Investors expect that in a contest between Mrs Clinton and Mr Trump, the former secretary of state would trounce the billionaire.

But Mr Christophe Donay, Pictet Wealth Management's head of asset allocation and macro research, is not convinced that the rally will last.

A sustained recovery will happen only if investors see signs of one of three things, he said yesterday. These are: a lasting return in oil prices to US$45 to US$50 a barrel; a reversal of monetary policies by developed economies' central banks, including a move back into positive territory for European and Japanese short-term interest rates; and a strong new policy mix to dispel deflationary pressures in the developed world.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 03, 2016, with the headline 'Oil's climb, US data lift Asian markets'. Print Edition | Subscribe