Shares rally on US jobs, Europe action hopes

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 TOKYO: Asian shares rallied to a three-month high and the euro touched a one-month high against the dollar on Monday, as a stronger-than-expected US jobs data and emerging optimism for European action on the debt crisis bolstered risk appetite.

But caution is likely to remain until concrete measures are taken, which may be weeks away, and investors in the meantime will be looking to data out of China starting Thursday — from trade to bank loans and investment — to give the global economic outlook a further lift.

China’s central bank on Sunday pledged to intensify monetary policy fine-tuning and improve credit policy to bolster the world’s second largest economy.

With the euro zone debt crisis crippling global economic activity, Southeast Asia’s largest economy, Indonesia, will likely report its second quarter gross domestic product grew 6.1 per cent on Monday, indicating its once-sizzling economy is starting to cool and show gaps in its resilience against a global slowdown.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 1.6 per cent to its highest in three months, with Hong Kong shares rallying 2 per cent to be among the region’s top performers. Japan’s Nikkei stock average jumped 1.7 per cent.

“Time has come to shift funds to risk assets, as markets have very limited room for further downside from here,” said

Tetsu Emori, a Tokyo-based commodities fund manager at Astmax Investments.

“Investors may be questioning why they rushed to sell when the ECB and the Fed both have been saying they will take action when necessary. They never said they won’t do anything.”

Looking back, June might have marked the turning point when European policymakers agreed to a broad framework to shore up the region’s troubled banks, and markets’ sharp swings in the past month may have only helped consolidate the bottom, he said.

European shares rose to four-month highs on Friday and the euro surged as investors re-evaluated the European Central Bank’s statement after its policy meeting on Thursday which hinted at upcoming policy steps to contain surging borrowing costs in Spain.

Better-than-expected US jobs data spurred unwinding of safe-haven holdings in treasuries and the dollar while boosting US and European equities and oil on Friday.

At the same time, a rise in the jobless rate left most economists still expecting  further monetary stimulus from the Federal Reserve as soon as September.

“We think the likelihood of further central bank moves remains high, particularly in Europe … this bodes well for risk,” Barclays Capital analysts said in a research note.

The euro earlier on Monday rose to its highest since July 5 of $1.2444, while the dollar was at 78.41 yen, off a two-week high of 78.77 hit on Friday when weakening safe-haven demand weighed on the yen.

“When you think about the fact that something positive will probably materialise even if it takes some time, the euro could see a bit of a rebound,” said Hiroshi Maeba, head of FX trading Japan for UBS in Tokyo, referring to possible ECB measures.

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