RPT-GLOBAL MARKETS-Asia stocks at 17-mth high on China trade

Sun Jan 10, 2010 11:40pm EST

Related Topics

* China trade rebound pushes Asian stocks to 17-mth high

* Dollar extends losses on weak U.S. jobs report

* Gold surges to 5-wk high, oil tops $83 (Repeats story to more subscribers)

By Susan Fenton

HONG KONG, Jan 11 (Reuters) - Asian stocks rose to a 17-month high on Monday as a strong rebound in China's exports raised optimism about the region's economic outlook as the dollar suffered following weak U.S. jobs data.

China's exports and imports last month blew past expectations, with exports surging 17.7 percent from a year earlier to break 13 months of declines. The trade data, released on Sunday, triggered a shift into Asian assets as investors shrugged off Friday's disappointing U.S. non-farm payrolls data.

Gold pushed up to a five-week high as the data showed a sharp rise in China's commodity imports and sent the Australian dollar AUD= to a 26-month peak against the euro EUR=.

Chia-Liang Lian, a senior vice president at bond fund PIMCO said Asia's domestic fundamentals make the region highly attractive.

"We have seen how Asia has navigated successfully through a tough year with a score card that is nothing short of spectacular," Lian told Reuters in an interview. [ID:nTOE60A01T]

The MSCI index of Asia Pacific stocks traded outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS hit its highest level since July 2008.

The index and the Thomson Reuters index of regional shares .TRXFLDAXPU were up 1.4 percent and 0.8 percent, respectively.

Japanese financial markets were closed for a public holiday.

Australia's leading share index .AXJO rose 0.8 percent to a 15-month high as the China data lifted resource companies that benefit from Chinese demand.

The Australian dollar soared to 0.6442 euros AUDEUR=, its highest in more than two years, and a five-week high against the dollar at $0.9305 AUD=.

OIL TOPS $83

Shares in Shanghai .SSEC climbed 1 percent after the trade data underlined the vigour of the economy. [ID:nSGE60A016]

Shares of Aluminum Corp of China (Chalco) (2600.HK) (601600.SS), the country's top aluminum company, surged 4 percent in Hong Kong.

Chinese brokerage shares also rallied after news late last week that Beijing had decided to allow stock index futures and margin trading. [ID:nTOE60708W]

The dollar, however, extended losses stemming from the jobs report, which dampened expectations of an early rise in U.S. interest rates.

A member of the U.S. Federal Reserve monetary policy committee, James Bullard, said on Monday that U.S. rates may remain low for quite sometime, reiterating the central bank's long standing position.

Bullard, the president of the St Louis Federal Reserve Bank, made the comments in remarks prepared for a speech in Shanghai. [ID:nN10135264]

The dollar dropped 0.6 percent against a basket of currencies .DXY and was changing hands at $1.4492 against the euro EUR=, down from $1.4414 late in New York on Friday.

The U.S. economy shed 85,000 jobs in December, confounding expectations that the jobs market was finally stabilising. Still, analysts argued the outcome was consistent with economic recovery because the pace of job losses had dropped sharply since the height of recession. [nN0747110]

That view carried over into the stock market. U.S. stocks rose on Friday after trading in the red for most of the day.

The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI and S&P 500 .SPX hit 15-month highs, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq climbed to a 16-month peak.

Oil CLc1 jumped more than 1 percent, topping $83 a barrel, on the back of the weak dollar and a surge in China's crude oil imports last month.

Extremely cold weather in parts of the northern hemisphere also continued to support the oil price, which some analysts suggesting it is heading to $85 a barrel. It is still 43 percent below its July 2008 high of more than $147 a barrel though.

China's export rebound fuelled expectations China could soon let the yuan start rising again CNY=CFXS.

A stronger yuan would benefit pricing for fellow Asian exporters. So Asian currencies rose, notably the Korean won KRW=KFTC, which struck its highest level against the dollar in more than 15 months. (Additional reporting by Saikat Chatterjee in HONG KONG; editing by Neil Fullick) (susan.fenton@thomsonreuters.com; +852 2843 6367; Reuters Messaging: susan.fenton.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net)

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