Better than expected numbers from Japan and Korea push Asian stocks higher

<p>Asian shares were higher with the MSCI Asia Pacific Index rising by 1.2% just before noon in Tokyo trading. Stocks were pushed higher by better […]</p>

Asian shares were higher with the MSCI Asia Pacific Index rising by 1.2% just before noon in Tokyo trading. Stocks were pushed higher by better than expected industrial output data from Japan and South Korea.

In currency markets, the Euro was last trading at its intra-day high of 1.3482 against the US dollar ahead of the European Central Bank’s move to provide funding to support banks.

In regional economic news, Japan’s industrial output grew by 2% in January while South Korea’s increased by 3.3%. The US dollar last traded at 80.45 against the yen.

Elsewhere, India’s gross domestic product (GDP) firmed by an annualised 6.3% in the three months to December 2011.

In Australia, retail sales grew by 0.3% in January which was in line with market expectations. The rise follows a solid jump in Japanese retail sales yesterday. Australia’s numbers follow on from a 0.1% gain in December 2011.

The initial print saw a rise in the Australian dollar, with expectations that an interest rate cut will be delayed on the back of the retail numbers. The Australian dollar was last trading at 1.0805 against the US dollar.

Australian corporate news saw retail heavyweight Harvey Norman report earnings that were slightly above market expectations but impacted by tax benefits. The sales numbers aren’t great, in fact very weak. Comparable sales declined 6.3% with the worst performance in Slovenia and Croatia.

Australia saw a large decline in the second quarter of the year, down 9.5% on a comparable basis.

Elsewhere, Qantas reported an 8.3% rise in total passengers carried for the month of January, a better than expected number which sent shares up slightly.




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