Strong start for Asian shares; Australian dollar appreciates as the Euro weakens

<p>Asian stocks kicked off the year in positive territory after a poor final quarter in 2011. The MSCI Asia Pacific index, excluding Japan which was […]</p>

Asian stocks kicked off the year in positive territory after a poor final quarter in 2011. The MSCI Asia Pacific index, excluding Japan which was closed today, added 1.7% at noon in Hong Kong.

The Australian market added 1.2% going into the close of trading, supported by gains across the board. The Australian dollar was last trading just shy of 103 US cents while the Euro continues to weaken.

The Japanese Yen is approaching the crucial post war highs which might prompt another round of intervention from the Bank of Japan. The USD/JPY was last trading at around 76.80.

Gold managed to add around 1% during the Asian trading session but remains below US$1600/oz.

In regional economic news, a read into Australian manufacturing showed an expansion for the first time in six months, surprising many given the steady stream of negative data in the final months of 2011.

The numbers in Singapore were not as positive, pointing to an annualised decline in GDP of around 4.9% in the final quarter of 2011. The decline was broadly in line with market expectations which were hosed down on negative Chinese manufacturing data and the impact of European debt on the region.

In energy markets, Brent Crude Oil continued to add to recent gains, adding around 1.3% to US$108.66 per barrel. Traders are carefully monitoring the impact of war games by Iran in the Persian Gulf.

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