Asian stock markets ended with gains on Monday as the disappointing US economic activity data boosted hopes for further monetary stimulus from the Federal Reserve.
The US commerce department said on Friday that economic activity in the world’s largest economy cooled in the first quarter. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) fell to 2.2 percent in the first quarter from 3 percent in the fourth quarter of 2011 and also fell short of economists' expectation of 2.5 percent.
However, the weak economic growth data did not have a lasting impact on the market as S&P 500 managed to close above 1,400. In fact, the sluggish GDP data supports the view that the FED will launch a third round of quantitative easing.
A flavour of QE (quantitative easing) is back in the air, driving the U.S. dollar lower and risky assets higher, Sebastien Galy, strategist at Societe Generale, told Reuters.
Meanwhile, Better-than-expected quarterly earnings from the major US major companies, including Amazon.com Inc and Expedia Inc, buoyed sentiment. Amazon.com surged 15.75 percent and Expedia climbed 23.54 percent and was also the top percentage gainer on the S&P 500.
The earnings season so far has been stronger than expected. With 287 S&P 500 companies reporting, about 73 percent had topped expectations, Reuters reported.
In Hong Kong, Chinese banking shares led the rally. Benchmark Hang Seng surged 1.7 percent or 352.76 points to 21,094.21, the highest level in six weeks. Agricultural Bank of China gained 1.93 percent and Bank of Communications surged 3.63 percent while the Ping An Insurance Group rose 1.72 percent.
Seoul Shares ended higher, led by gains from blue-chip automakers and shipyards companies’ shares. Benchmark Kospi advanced 0.34 percent or 6.64 points to 1,981.99.
Hyundai Motors gained 3.07 percent and Kia Motors advanced 3.35 percent while Samsung Electronics gained 1.16 percent after displacing Nokia as the world's largest mobile phone maker by shipments.
Meanwhile, South Korea's industrial output declined 3.1 percent in March from the previous month with exports decreasing and domestic demand continuing to be weak.
Indian Stock markets advanced, led by gains from IT, tech and oil & gas sector shares. Benchmark BSE Sensex gained 0.76 percent or 131.47 points to 17,318.81.
Japanese Nikkei and Chinese Shanghai were closed for holiday.