Asian stocks rose this week, with the benchmark index posting its biggest weekly gain since January, as economic data from the US boosted confidence in the world’s largest economy amid speculation China would do more to support growth.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index rose 3 percent to 120.5 this week, its biggest weekly advance since the five days ended Jan. 20. The gauge pared its gain on Friday, as reports showed China’s exports and new lending missed estimates and Singapore’s economy contracted in the second quarter.
For the US, “expectations have been cut substantially, so even a weak number will appear to be a good number,” said Binay Chandgothia, a Hong Kong-based portfolio manager at Principal Global Investors. “If you look at policy noise out of China, it is kind of turning to supporting growth. Markets are reasonably cheap.”
The Asia-Pacific measure retreated 8.5 percent from a Feb. 29 high through Friday as Europe’s deepening debt crisis and slower growth in the US and China dampened the global demand outlook.
Taiwan’s TAIEX advanced 3.1 percent to close at 7,441.12 points this week, while South Korea’s KOSPI jumped 5.3 percent after the central bank left its key interest rate unchanged.
Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average gained 3.9 percent this week, its biggest weekly gain since February, even after the Bank of Japan refrained from adding stimulus to the economy and machinery orders rebounded less than forecast.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index climbed 2.4 percent, while China’s Shanghai Composite Index rose 1.7 percent. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index gained 1.3 percent. The nation’s employers added more jobs last month than economists estimated, and the Reserve Bank of Australia raised its growth forecast for this year on stronger-than-expected consumer demand.
Singapore’s Straits Times Index gained 0.1 percent in a week that was shortened by a holiday. The city state on Wednesday cut the upper end of its economic growth forecast for this year amid the global slowdown.
Shares in Asia rose this week after a US Labor Department report showed US payrolls climbed more than forecast even as the jobless rate unexpectedly rose. Growth in the services industry last month accelerated from a month earlier.
In other markets on Friday:
Manila rose 0.13 percent, or 6.74 points, from Thursday to 5,263.35.
Wellington eased 0.16 percent, or 5.82 points, from Thursday to 3,577.80.