Asian stocks rose on Wednesday after better-than-expected economic data gave U.S. shares a boost. Japan’s Nikkei 225 rose 3.4 percent, South Korea’s KOSPI and Singapore’s STI were up 1.5 percent and Australia’s ASX 200 gained 1.7 percent.
In the U.S., the Dow Jones Industrial Average, Standard & Poor’s 500 and Nasdaq Composite all rose from 2.1 percent to 2.9 percent.
While still indicating contraction, the Institute of Supply Management’s U.S. factory index was higher than expected in February, while another report showed construction spending climbed to its highest since 2007 in January.
“Perhaps we found bottom and a turning point,” said Bradley Holcomb, chairman of the ISM’s factory survey, Bloomberg reported. “I think we’re set up for things in the right direction, and I say that largely on the basis of new orders.”
While oil gave up most of a 2 percent gain it made earlier on Tuesday, it has stayed above $30 a barrel for about two weeks, suggesting to some that a 20-month decline is near its end. Oil’s decline from more than $100 a barrel in mid-2014 has hurt stocks of energy companies and the many industries that supply them around the world.
Confidence in the U.S. economy and oil gave some investors the cue to look optimistically at upcoming central bank meetings. China's central bank already this week took an additional step to boost the country’s economy by cutting its reserve ratio requirement, allowing banks to lend more.
“We have seen an immense risk-on rally over the past 24 hours of trade, and a lot of this does look to be underpinned by the stability that oil has found above the $30 level over the past two weeks,” said Angus Nicholson, a market analyst at IG, CNBC reported. “China announced cuts to the RRR this week and markets are looking to the upcoming European Central Bank and Bank of Japan meetings for signs of further global monetary stimulus.”
The ECB meets on March 10 and the BOJ on March 14 to 15. ECB President Mario Draghi has indicated the bank may take action as early as this month instead of midyear as many economists had expected.