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April 8, 2015

Asian shares rise, Hong Kong at seven-year high

Hong Kong: Asian markets rallied Wednesday, led by an almost four percent surge in Hong Kong on its first post-holiday trading day as it reacted to weak US jobs data that reduced the chances of a rate rise any time soon.

The Japanese central bank´s decision to delay any new easing measures pushed the yen up against the dollar, while investors await the release of minutes from the Federal Reserve´s latest policy meeting.

Oil prices ticked lower on profit-taking in Asia after climbing Tuesday to their highest level of 2015.

Hong Kong, which last traded on Thursday, soared 3.80 percent, or 961.22 points, to 26,236.86.

Shanghai ended 0.84 percent, or 33.43 points higher at 3,994.81 and Tokyo added 0.76 percent, or 149.27 points, to 19,789.81.

Sydney rose 0.59 percent, or 34.7 points, to 5,960.7 and Seoul advanced 0.60 percent, or 12.23 points, to end at 2,059.26.

Last week´s Labor Department data showing that the US economy created fewer jobs in March than it had for more than a year raised expectations that rates will be kept low through the summer.

The next focal point is the release later Wednesday of minutes from the last Fed meeting, with dealers poring over them for clues about when the bank plans to announce a rise.

In currency trading the dollar edged down after the Bank of Japan stood pat on monetary policy even though the country is struggling to overcome anaemic price growth.

The dollar bought 119.88 yen, down from 120.32 yen in New York Tuesday but well above the low-119 yen range seen in Tokyo at the start of the week soon after the US jobs data.

- Greece fears linger -

"There´s still a little bit of doubt in the market as to really where the US economy is, and more importantly, how the Fed perceives the US economy," Raiko Shareef, a markets strategist in Wellington at Bank of New Zealand, told Bloomberg News. The dollar is "in a little bit of a holding pattern", he added.

The euro rose to $1.0875 in Tokyo from $1.0813 in New York and to 130.32 yen from 130.11 yen.

However, dealers were cautious as Greece faces a Thursday deadline for its next bailout repayment to the International Monetary Fund. Eurozone deputy finance ministers will meet on Wednesday and Thursday to seek agreement on Athens´s reforms needed to unlock the last tranche of its multibillion-dollar bailout and avert a default.
On Wall Street Tuesday the Dow edged down 0.03 percent, the S&P 500 dropped 0.21 percent and the Nasdaq fell 0.14 percent.

Oil prices retreated from their 2015 highs, which were prompted by an easing of fears that Iranian crude would soon flood the market after last week´s nuclear deal with the West.

Also providing support was news that Saudi Arabia had raised prices for Asia, citing increased demand.

US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for May delivery fell $1.10 to $52.88 a barrel in afternoon Asian trade and Brent crude for May dropped 71 cents to $58.39.

On Tuesday WTI rose $1.84 and Brent was up 98 cents.

Gold fetched $1,211.01 against $1,212.72 late Tuesday.

In other markets:

-- Taipei fell 0.73 percent, or 69.93 points, to 9,571.97.
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. sank 2.05 percent to Tw$143.0 while Hon Hai eased 0.11 percent to Tw$93.7.

-- Wellington was flat, edging up 4.28 points to 5,859.71.
Spark New Zealand sank 2.77 percent to NZ$2.98 while Air New Zealand added 1.29 percent to NZ$2.75.

-- Manila closed 0.77 percent lower, giving up 60.72 points to 8,037.96.
Ayala Land was unchanged at 40 pesos while BDO Unibank Inc. dropped 1.17 percent to 118.50 pesos and Metro Pacific Investments fell 4.13 percent to 4.64 pesos. (AFP)