Asian stocks rise slightly, copper up on China

By @ibtimes on

Asian stocks rose slightly on Tuesday after China's closely-watched inflation data failed to surprise markets, while the euro regained some ground after hitting a three-week low the previous day.

Consumer price figures for China that came in lower than had earlier been expected prompted London copper to rally to a record high, as the data soothed concerns that Beijing might adopt a more aggressive monetary tightening regime.

Chinese consumer price inflation accelerated to 4.9 percent in the year to January. It matched the widespread figure that swirled through markets on Monday, but was below the earlier consensus forecast of 5.3 percent.

Analysts remained wary about a build-up in China's price pressures, saying Beijing could further tighten monetary policy, given continued rises in food prices.

The data probably slightly eased expectations of immediate tightening, although in the overall scheme of things, this doesn't change the fact that China is still in a tightening phase, said Etsuko Yamashita, chief economist at SMBC.

After the Chinese data was released, three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange rose $30 to $10,190 a tonne by 0233 GMT.

The Shanghai stock market <.SSEC> was up 0.4 percent, compared with a rise of 0.38 percent before the data came out.

Japanese stocks <.N225> hit a new nine-month high in early trading on growing investor confidence boosted by recent solid corporate earnings, but remained in a narrow range with no clear direction. <.T>

MSCI's Asia Pacific index excluding Japan <.MIAPJ0000PUS>, which snapped five straight sessions of losses on Monday, was up 0.18 percent as of 0258 GMT, while South Korea's KOSPI <.KS11> was up 0.4 percent and Hong Kong stocks <.HSI> dipped 0.5 percent.

In the currency market, uncertainty remained over concrete solutions to Europe's fiscal problems, keeping the euro vulnerable, though it edged up 0.2 percent to around $1.3515, after falling as low as $1.3426 overnight.

On Monday, euro zone finance ministers agreed that a permanent rescue mechanism, called the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), to be set up from 2013, would total 500 billion euros.

Traders are also focusing on U.S. retail sales data for clues on the dollar's near-term outlook. The figures are expected to show a 0.6 percent rise in January from the previous month.

The greenback may regain its footing over the next 24 hours of trading as the economic docket is expected to reinforce an improved outlook for future growth, said David Song, currency analyst at DailyFX.

The dollar held steady near 83.30 yen, while Aussie rose to the day's high of $1.0056 after China's CPI data.

U.S. crude futures pared some losses in early Asian trade, buoyed by Chinese demand and unrest in the Middle East, which could trigger supply disruptions of crude oil.

(Writing by Yoko Nishikawa; Additional reporting by Hideyuki Sano in Tokyo and; Nick Trevethan in Singapore; Editing by Daniel Magnowski)

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