Asian Markets Mostly Gain On Upbeat US Data; Shanghai Composite Index, Gold Extend Slide

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Asian Stocks
Asian Stocks

Most Asian markets advanced on Wednesday as sentiment perked up after U.S. economic data beat expectations, even as a strong dollar pushed gold futures to two-year lows.

China's Shanghai Composite index extended its slide for a sixth consecutive session and was trading down 0.79 percent, as interbank lending rates remained above levels seen in May, despite promises of monetary stimulus from China's central bank.

The People's Bank of China, or PBoC, on Tuesday, said it had provided cash to some financial institutions to stabilize money-market rates and it would continue to do so if necessary.

“We believe that the PBoC has allowed the squeeze to teach banks a lesson on the risks of aggressive balance sheet expansion and large off-balance-sheet activities. The squeeze is not comparable to credit crunch episodes observed in the past elsewhere and markets need not panic that China is about to experience a hard landing. The PBoC has all the resources needed to restore liquidity and the willingness to use them,” said a note from Credit Agricole.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng surged 1.41 percent. South Korea’s KOSPI advanced 0.16 percent, Australia's S&P/ASX surged 1.37 percent, and India’s BSE Sensex was trading up 0.02 percent in mid-morning trade. Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 continued its volatile run, falling more than 1 percent after gained some ground earlier in the day..

Commodity prices, on the other hand, were down as the dollar, which has an inverse relationship with commodities traded in dollars, is appreciating against most currencies following a spate of positive data from the U.S. The dollar index, which measures the dollar against a basket of six major currencies, was at 82.57 on Tuesday, after touching a three-week high of 82.84 on Monday.

WTI oil futures declined 0.84 percent and copper futures fell 1.14 percent, while gold futures plunged 2 percent during Asian trade.

"A drop in emerging currencies has made dollar-based commodities prices more expensive and spurred outflows from commodities markets which have been suffering from fund outflows for some time now," Tetsu Emori, a commodity fund manager with Astmax Investments in Tokyo, told Reuters.

Data released by the U.S. Census Bureau on Tuesday showed that durable goods orders rose a better-than-expected 3.6 percent in May due to a surge in commercial aircraft orders, while core orders, excluding transportation, also topped estimates.

Reports on housing and consumer confidence also beat expectations, with consumer confidence surging to 81.4 in June, its highest level since January 2008, while new home sales climbed to their highest level in more than five years in May.

The latest upbeat data supports the Federal Reserve's view that the economy is strengthening, adding to concerns that the Fed will begin to scale back its massive asset-purchase program in the coming months.

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