Tuesday, 17 March 2015 10:53
HONG KONG: Asian equity markets pushed higher on Tuesday, while the dollar’s march took a breather after a weak batch of US data seemed to pour cold water on talk of an early summer US interest rate hike.
The weak figures on US manufacturing and industrial output helped propel US shares higher, providing a strong lead for Asia.
Tokyo climbed 0.84 percent to sit at highs not seen in 15 years, while Hong Kong added 0.66 percent, Seoul put on 1.15 percent and Shanghai was 0.78 percent higher.
Sydney climbed 1.11 percent after minutes from the Australian central bank’s latest meeting suggested it could cut rates again soon.
Wall Street’s three main indexes charged higher after news that US industrial production barely rose in February after two consecutive months of declines, and only pulled higher by heating demand during unusually cold weather.
Also, manufacturing declined for the third straight month, by 0.2 percent, as automakers curbed output.
In New York the Dow surged 1.29 percent, the S&P 500 jumped 1.35 percent and the Nasdaq rallied 1.19 percent.
The readings came as the Fed prepares to hold a two-day policy meeting Tuesday, which will be closely watched for clues about its timing for a rate hike.
Expectations have been high for an increase as early as June after a strong jobs report at the start of the month, but they have been tempered by the latest figures, as well as data Friday showing falling producer prices.
In foreign exchange markets the dollar was at 121.47 yen early Tuesday, compared with 121.35 yen in New York late Monday.
The euro, which hit a 12-year low Monday below $ 1.0500, bought $ 1.0562 against $ 1.0565 in US trade.
The single currency also fetched 128.22 yen compared with 128.21 yen in New York.
In oil trade US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for April delivery eased 15 cents to $ 43.73 while Brent crude for May, a new contract, gained 23 cents to $ 54.17.
Gold fetched $ 1,153.88 against $ 1,156.82 late Monday.
Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2015