MUMBAI (MarketWatch) — Asian stocks rallied Thursday, helped by short covering in Hong Kong and positive cues from Wall Street after better-than-expected U.S. jobs figures.
Hong Kong was among the leading advancers as the market returned from a holiday Wednesday, with the Hang Seng Index /zigman2/quotes/210598030/delayed HK:HSI -1.17% jumping 5.7%.
Japan’s Nikkei Stocks Average /zigman2/quotes/210597971/delayed JP:NIK -0.07% ended the day up 1.7%, while Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 /zigman2/quotes/210598100/delayed AU:XJO +0.91% traded 3.7% higher, and South Korea’s Kospi /zigman2/quotes/210598069/delayed KR:180721 +1.73% climbed 2.6%. Mainland Chinese markets remained closed for a week-long holiday.
The Asia share moves followed a 1.2% gain for the Dow Jones Industrial Average /zigman2/quotes/210598065/realtime DJIA +3.44% and a 1.8% rise for the S&P 500 /zigman2/quotes/210599714/realtime SPX +3.41% , helped by upbeat economic data, including a better-than-expected gain in private-sector payrolls. See more on Wednesday’s U.S. stock moves in Market Snapshot.
KGI Asia Chief Operating Officer Ben Kwong said this may have led investors to cover short positions, fueling the Asian rally, but he cautioned against tying the advance to any single factor. “You can pick any reason for the rally, but, for me, these are only excuses,” Kwong said. “The market is very sentiment-driven right now — whenever there’s any bad news shares sink, but when there is good news they’ll jump like a fox.”
Many financials were outperforming the broader climb, with Nomura Holdings Inc. /zigman2/quotes/206251373/delayed JP:8604 -1.72% /zigman2/quotes/201003564/delayed NRSCF +6.22% up 3.8% and Daiwa Securities Group Inc. /zigman2/quotes/201391978/delayed JP:8601 -2.49% /zigman2/quotes/206649614/delayed DSECF -9.61% adding 4.3% in Tokyo, Bank of China Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/204682472/delayed HK:3988 -1.33% /zigman2/quotes/201568493/delayed BACHY -0.21% /zigman2/quotes/209359942/delayed CN:601988 -0.57% ahead by 4.5% and Bank of Communications Co. /zigman2/quotes/207155262/delayed CN:601328 -0.38% /zigman2/quotes/203442771/delayed HK:3328 -2.06% /zigman2/quotes/208048873/delayed BKFCF -15.38% rising 5%, and Macquarie Group Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/206727308/delayed AU:MQG +3.14% /zigman2/quotes/204353811/delayed MCQEF +7.45% climbing 6.9% in Sydney.
In Japan, exporters — especially in the tech sector — were performing strongly as upbeat sentiment carried over from the U.S. session. Fujitsu Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/208459594/delayed JP:6702 -1.52% /zigman2/quotes/208783738/delayed FJTSY +0.71% rose 6.5%, Sony Corp. /zigman2/quotes/201361720/delayed JP:6758 +0.33% /zigman2/quotes/208567357/composite SNE +2.39% traded 4.7% higher, and Elpida Memory Inc. advanced 6.6%.
Some Hong Kong-listed property developers saw particularly sharp gains, including Agile Property Holdings Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/210448079/delayed HK:3383 -1.87% /zigman2/quotes/200754284/delayed AGPYY -34.62% , up 19.7%, and China Overseas Land & Investment Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/205731176/delayed HK:688 +0.38% /zigman2/quotes/210412581/delayed CAOVF -2.17% , up 17.4%.
Those shares had suffered in recent sessions amid concerns about funding for mainland property firms, and KGI Asia’s Kwong said the gains Thursday could constitute a relief rally after Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao called for action to prevent a capital shortage. See report on China’s property sector on Premier Wen’s comments.
Gains in commodity prices also drove resources shares higher across the region. Australian miners rose sharply, with Rio Tinto Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/200083756/delayed AU:RIO -0.56% /zigman2/quotes/202627887/composite RIO +0.59% up 4.9%, Fortescue Metals Group Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/202351558/delayed AU:FMG +0.76% /zigman2/quotes/204116626/delayed FSUMF +6.22% up 7.1%, Alumina Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/210515632/delayed AU:AWC +0.35% /zigman2/quotes/201398507/delayed AWCMF +6.94% adding 6.1%.
In Hong Kong, Jiangxi Copper Co. /zigman2/quotes/201668148/delayed HK:358 -0.13% /zigman2/quotes/204256025/delayed JIXAY -12.95% /zigman2/quotes/201334192/delayed CN:600362 +0.76% rallied 10.6%, and energy major Cnooc Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/203421416/delayed HK:883 -3.02% /zigman2/quotes/204964401/composite CEO +0.79% gained 8.5%, while in Tokyo Japan Petroleum Exploration Co. /zigman2/quotes/201212147/delayed JP:1662 +2.88% /zigman2/quotes/202925532/delayed JPTXF -1.12% climbed 4%.