Global Markets: Asian shares rise on firm China, US data

Asian shares advanced on Friday as encouraging Chinese data confirmed a recovery was on track in the world’s second largest economy, cementing positive sentiment after global equities rose overnight on firm U.S. labour and housing market reports.

“The data reaffirmed views that China will not see a hard landing as feared at one point and that the economy is on a more solid footing than last year and resuming a sustainable growth level of 7 to 8 percent,” said Tomomichi Akuta, senior energy researcher at Mitsubishi UFJ Research and Consulting in Tokyo.

China’s economy grew 7.9 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012 from a year earlier, official data showed, strengthening from 7.4 percent in the third quarter – the lowest since the depths of the global financial crisis.

The bounce snapped seven straight quarters of slowing expansion, beating market forecast of 7.8 percent growth, and augurs well for risk-on trade amid an improving outlook for the global economy.

Other Chinese data released showed industrial output grew 10.3 percent in December from a year ago, above an expected 10.1 percent increase, and retail sales in December rose 15.2 percent on the year ago, also topping an estimated 14.9 percent rise.

“The Chinese data, along with signs of recovery in the United States and relative calm in the euro zone give a sense of stability to markets and raise hopes for stronger demand for key materials, as the focus shifts to fundamentals,” Akuta said.

The MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 0.5 percent, snapping a three-day losing streak, carrying upbeat momentum after the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index rallied to a five-year closing high.

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