Upward momentum for Asian stocks; BHP Billiton reports solid production numbers

<p>Asian stocks were higher after yesterday’s positive Chinese GDP print and positive offshore leads. The MSCI Asia Pacific index was 0.6% in early afternoon Tokyo […]</p>

Asian stocks were higher after yesterday’s positive Chinese GDP print and positive offshore leads.

The MSCI Asia Pacific index was 0.6% in early afternoon Tokyo trading. The regional index is up 10% from October lows in a sign that risk appetite and confidence in equities is slowly returning to the market.

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 index finished in slightly positive territory, up 0.2%, after trading in negative territory for most of the day.

The Australian dollar last traded at 1.04 against the US dollar while the Euro managed to hold onto last night’s gains, last at 1.2780 against the dollar.

Gold was steady while copper is pointing to more gains, last at US$3.73/lb.

In regional corporate news – Australia’s largest index constituent BHP Biliton reported a solid fourth quarter production number with iron ore slightly above expectations, base metals in line but coal volumes slightly below expectations. The mixed bag result was enough to see the shares finish 0.8% higher.

In other regional corporate news, Tokyo Electric Power Co managed to post gains of up to 8% after reporting it will raise electricity rates for companies and other large industry users. The result was interpreted as having a positive impact on earnings by the market.

Elsewhere, Reliance Industries – India’s largest company by market capitalisation – rallied almost 4% after announcing plans to buy back shares for the first time in seven years, in response to its 2011 stock price slump.

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