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Asia markets jump; Nikkei surges after Abe's election landslide

July 11,2016 05:11

In upper house elections on Sunday, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's ruling coalition won in a landslide, in a development analysts said was likely to make it far easier to push through his economic agenda, dubbed Abenomics. Australia's ASX 200 was up 1.76 ...and more »

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Asia markets opened higher on Monday, bolstered by election results in Japan and Australia and shrugging off concerns a strong U.S. jobs report might push the Federal Reserve closer to hiking rates.

Japan's Nikkei 225 rallied 3.3 percent, while the Topix was up 3.18 percent. Those gains came despite the yen remaining relatively strong, with the dollar-yen currency pair at 100.68 at 9:37 a.m. HK/SIN.

In upper house elections on Sunday, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's ruling coalition won in a landslide, in a development analysts said was likely to make it far easier to push through his economic agenda, dubbed Abenomics.

Australia's ASX 200 was up 1.76 percent, boosted by a 2.15 percent gain in the financials subindex that makes up nearly half of the broader index. Major Australian banks rallied, with shares of ANZ climbing 2.9 percent. The Australian dollar climbed to $0.7542.

On Sunday, Australia's Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull declared his ruling coalition won the extremely close election, although the counting of votes continues more than a week after the actual vote.

"Resolution of the ambiguous federal election result over the weekend is helping the Australian dollar remain buoyant," Anthony Darvall, chief market strategist at spreadbettor easyMarkets, said in a note.

Hong Kong's shares joined the regional rally, with the Hang Seng Index up 1.60 percent. On the mainland, the Shanghai Composite added 0.34 percent. In South Korea, the Kospi added 1.20 percent.

In the U.S. on Friday, the nonfarm payrolls report showed that the U.S. created 287,000 jobs in June, versus the 175,000 expected by economists surveyed by Reuters. The unemployment rate edged higher to 4.9 percent, versus the 4.8 percent estimate.

Despite the better-than-expected jobs report for June, analysts said it wouldn't be enough to push the U.S. Federal Reserve to raise interest rates.

"Abstracting from monthly noise, jobs growth averaged a solid 147,000 a month over the last three months, telling us that the U.S. economy is doing well," Shane Oliver, head of investment strategy and chief economist at AMP Capital, said in a Friday note after the report.

But Oliver added, "The Fed will probably still want to see more evidence that U.S. growth has picked up sustainably and that global risks post Brexit are settling down and so won't be rushing to raise rates soon particularly with wages growth remaining low."

In the currency market, the dollar traded at 96.373 against a basket of currencies on Monday morning. In the immediate aftermath of the jobs report on Friday, the dollar index spiked momentarily to near the 96.500 level before retreating back to levels just above 96, similar to where it was before the release.

Kathy Lien, managing director of foreign exchange strategy at BK Asset Management, said in a Friday note that foreign exchange traders were not convinced by the better-than-expected June jobs report and were eyeing the downward revision of the weak May numbers. The already weak payrolls growth from May was revised even further downward, to 11,000.

"There's no reasonable case for a rate hike before the end of the year," said Lien. She added that continued Brexit risks, U.S. retail sales data, Chinese trade and GDP numbers due this week would mean another "volatile week for the greenback."

In Japan, exporters rallied despite the yen's relative strength, with Toyota up 3.36 percent, Nikon up 1.98 percent and Sony up 4.18 percent.

At least one analyst shrugged off the recent climb in the yen, saying it was not due to safe-haven demand, which would have hurt stocks.

"The upward pressure on the yen is being driven by Japanese asset managers raising long yen hedges on foreign portfolio investment," Brown Brothers Harriman said in a note Sunday.

"Japanese corporations who retained foreign earnings in high yielding foreign currency securities may also be increasing hedges. In effect, the yen strength is the unwinding of the substantial yen short that Japanese institutional investors and corporations had amassed during the early days of Abenomics."

Nintendo rocketed up 23.23 percent as the launch of its Pokemon Go smartphone game met with raging sales.

The initial public offering price for Line Corp., a subsidiary of South Korean internet company Naver, was set at 3,300 yen per share, at the top of the range, according to a Reuters report. Naver shares were up 0.53 percent.

In Hong Kong, CDB Leasing made its trading debut at HK$1.96, compared with its initial public offering price set at HK$1.90, the bottom of its indicative range.

Oil prices were lower during Asian hours, with global benchmark Brent down 0.88 percent at $46.35 a barrel, while U.S. crude futures dropped 1.06 percent to $444.93.

Major U.S. indexes closed higher on Friday, with the Dow Jones industrial average closing up 250.86 points, or 1.40 percent, at 18,146.74. The S&P 500 closed up 32.00 points, or 1.53 percent, at 2,129.90, while the Nasdaq composite added 79.95 points, or 1.64 percent, to 4,956.76.

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