HONG KONG—Asian markets rose Wednesday after Wall Street and European stocks reached new highs, and as China released better than expected trade figures for April.
Tokyo closed up 0.74 percent, or 105.45 points, at 14,285.69—a day after the Nikkei finished at its highest level in almost five years—while Seoul increased 0.11 percent, or 2.10 points, to end at 1,956.45.
Sydney responded positively to Tuesday’s decision by Australia’s central bank to cut interest rates to an all-time low of 2.75 percent, rising 1.09 percent, or 56.1 points, to 5,199.8.
Hong Kong closed up 0.86 percent, or 197.26 points, at 23,244.35. Shanghai added 0.48 percent, or 10.73 points, to 2,246.30 as data showed China recorded a higher than expected $18.2 billion trade surplus in April.
Customs authorities said April imports to the world’s second-largest economy increased 16.8 percent year on year to $168.9 billion while exports rose 14.7 percent to $187.1 billion.
The surplus came after China posted a rare deficit of $880 million in March and was above the median forecast of $15.6 billion in a poll of 12 economists by Dow Jones Newswires.
“April trade data was higher across the board, providing a rare upside surprise following weeks of disappointing data readings,” BBY institutional dealer Anson Rosewall told Dow Jones.
However, some analysts suggested the figures may have been overstated by importers and exporters to evade Chinese government controls.
“At first glance the data is encouraging but the figures must be taken with a grain of salt,” said Chris Tedder, a research analyst at Forex.com.
“There is a worrying disparity between different economic indicators from China.”
In New York on Tuesday the blue-chip Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at a record high on renewed optimism about the US economy.
The Dow finished above 15,000 for the first time, jumping 0.58 percent, or 87.31 points, to 15,056.20. The S&P 500 rose 0.52 percent to 1,625.96—its fourth consecutive all-time closing high—while the Nasdaq increased 0.11 percent.
Stocks have been buoyed of late by heavy monetary easing from central banks, a European Central Bank (ECB) interest rate cut to a record low 0.50 percent, and positive jobs reports from the United States.
European equities also rallied on Tuesday, with Frankfurt notching an all-time high following upbeat factory data. Germany’s DAX 30 index of leading shares jumped as high as 8,197.72 points, surpassing its previous record in July 2007.
Industrial orders rose by 2.2 percent in March compared with February, propelled by rising demand for German-made goods both at home and abroad.
On the forex market the euro gained, aided by the German economic numbers, but speculation over additional easing measures by the ECB capped its rise.
In afternoon Tokyo trade, the euro fetched $1.3091 and 129.54 yen against $1.3077 and 129.41 yen in US trade on Tuesday.
The dollar was quoted at 98.95 yen, almost unchanged from 98.96 yen in New York Tuesday afternoon.
Oil eased in Asian trade with New York’s main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in June, losing 4 cents to $95.58 a barrel. Brent North Sea crude for June delivery shed 18 cents to $104.22.
Gold was at $1,453.10 an ounce at 1040 GMT compared with $1,460 late Tuesday.
In other markets:
— Taipei rose 1.27 percent, or 104.03 points, to 8,267.09.
Acer increased 2.26 percent to Tw$24.85 while TSMC was 1.78 percent higher at Tw$114.5.
— Wellington was up 0.40 percent, or 18.55 points, at 4,640.28.
Telecom Corp. was up 0.19 percent at NZ$2.69 and Contact Energy rose 2.37 percent to NZ$5.61.
— Manila closed 0.49 percent, or 35.18 points, higher at 7,181.30.
Top-traded SM Investments Corp. gained 0.17 percent to 1,152 pesos while Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. rose 1.04 percent to 3,108 pesos.
— Singapore rose 0.88 percent, or 29.86 points, to close at 3,413.02.
United Overseas Bank gained 1.25 percent to Sg$21.80 while Singapore Airlines was up 0.63 percent at Sg$11.25.
— Jakarta increased 0.92 percent, or 46.55 points, to 5,089.34.
Miner Aneka Tambang rose 0.74 percent to 1,370 rupiah and Telekomunikasi Indonesia gained 0.85 percent to 11,800 rupiah.
— Bangkok rose 0.81 percent, or 13.0 points, to 1,614.15.
Telecom firm Advanced Info Service gained 3.7 percent to 280 baht and True Corp. climbed 6.4 percent to 9.15 baht.
— Kuala Lumpur was down 0.15 percent, or 2.73 points, at 1,774.00.
— Mumbai rose 0.51 percent, or 101.23 points, to 19,990.18.
Housing finance firm HDFC rose 3.85 percent to 885.6 rupees while Hindustan Unilever, the local arm of food giant Unilever rose 1.23 percent to 586.7 rupees.—Peter Hutchison