Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Asian Shares Higher on Stimulus Hopes; Australia Hits 7-Week High

*Nikkei gains 0.4%, Hang Seng Index down 0.1%, S&P ASX 200 up 1.1%

*Asian stock rise on stimulus hopes

*Philippine peso hits a four-year high against the dollar

News on European and U.S. central banks will issue more stimulus measures to help economic growth benefited Asian shares. Asian shares were mostly higher on Wednesday, pushing Australian stocks to a seven-week high and the Philippine peso reaching its strongest in four years.

Investors are looking towards a European Central Bank rate decision meeting on Thursday, as well as U.S. employment data on Friday, which is expected to encourage the Federal Reserve to implement more policy easing. Sentiment was also helped by news that orders for U.S. factory goods were up in May, reversing two months of declines.

The price of oil mainained its 4.7% overnight gain, although it dropped to $86.63 a barrel later in the day. Higher crude oil prices gave a boost to oil companies: in Australia Aurora Oil and Gas climbed 2.8% and in Japan Inpex Corp gained 2.9%.

Australia's S&P ASX 200 was up 1.1% to 4172.20 as resource companies led broad-based gains after commodity prices surged and offshore equities keep rising on hopes of policy stimulus. BHP Billiton gained 2.1%, Rio Tinto was up 2.7% and Fortescue Metals Group was 3.7% higher.

Gold eased to $1613.20 an ounce.

Japan's Nikkei and South Korea's Kospi were both up 0.4%, at 9104.17 and 1874.45 respectively.

In China, the Shanghai Composite was less than 0.1% lower at 2227.31, while the Hang Seng Index was also 0.1% lower at 19709.75.

The euro lost some of its 0.3% overnight gains $1.2582; Dollar was at 79.75 Japanese yen.

Regional risk currencies gained on the risk-on sentiment. The greenback went down to 1,132.70 against the won early in the session, a two month low, owing to dollar selling by exporters. Late in the afternoon the won was at 1136.40, compared with 1,138.30 on late Tuesday.

The currency star performer was in the Philippines where the dollar hit a four-year low against the Philippine peso at 41.65 to the dollar. The strengthening currency forced the central bank to intervene with traders saying that it bought around $100 million to support the dollar and weaken the peso.

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