Investing.com – Asian equities extended their gains in afternoon trade on Monday, following a solid lead in the U.S. last week after the February job data came in better than expected while inflation concerns faded.
U.S. data on Friday showed nonfarm payrolls surged by 313,000 jobs in February. Annual growth in average hourly earnings however slowed to 2.6%, tempering speculation the Federal Reserve would project four rate hikes this year instead of three.
Appetite for risk assets was also boosted near the end of last week as a controversial U.S. tariff plan turned out to be narrower than expected, easing speculation of a full blown global trade war.
Japan’s Nikkei closed 1.8% higher. The yen advanced on reports of a suspected cronyism scandal that claimed Finance Minister Taro Aso and his ministry altered documents tied to a controversial land sale that involved Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe and his wife.
China has approved the removal of term limits for its president with constitutional changes passed on Sunday. Although not a directional driver, a report compiled by the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) gathered some attention as it warned China and Hong Kong are among the economies most at risk of a banking crisis. Meanwhile, the Chinese government has ordered manufacturers in the city of Tianjin to cut emissions by at least 50%. The country’s industrial production, retail sales and fixed-asset investment are due Wednesday.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index jumped 1.4%. Retailer Prada SpA (HK:1913) surged 19.4% after its CEO Patrizio Bertelli said in the company’s latest earnings report that he was satisfied with the progress made in 2017, although net profit for the year was down 4.3% YoY. Index heavyweight Tencent Holdings Ltd (HK:0700) added 2.1% after its affiliate Linzhi Tencent Technology announced plans to buy a stake in television production company New Classics Media for $521.2 million.
Down under, Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 edged 0.6% higher at the close. Newcrest Mining Ltd (AX:NCM) made headlines after the company suspended mining at its flagship mine in New South Wales on the weekend. The company’s shares plummeted 4.5% following the news. New Zealand’s GDP data would be out on Thursday.
Elsewhere, South Korea’s finance minister Kim Dong-yeon said Monday that the country would "deploy all possible means" to respond to U.S. President Trump's steel and aluminum tariff plans. The KOSPI gained 1.0%.
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