Asian Stocks Surge on Solid China Data, Optimism on Earnings

TOKYO (AP) -
People walk by an electronic stock board of a securities firm in Tokyo, Friday, July 15, 2016. Asian shares were higher Friday after China reported steady economic growth in the second quarter of the year. Stocks also tracked a bullish session overnight on Wall Street, as strong earnings reports pushed the Dow Jones industrial average and S&P to fresh record highs. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)
People walk by an electronic stock board of a securities firm in Tokyo, Friday. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)

Asian shares were mostly higher Friday after China reported steady economic growth in the second quarter of the year. Stocks also tracked a bullish session overnight on Wall Street, as strong earnings reports pushed the Dow Jones industrial average and S&P to fresh record highs.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 stock index gained 0.7 percent to 16,497.85 as the yen weakened against the dollar. The Hang Seng index in Hong Kong climbed 0.1 percent to 21,591.00 and South Korea’s Kospi index added 0.4 percent to 2,017.26. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 was up 0.3 percent at 5,428.20. The Shanghai Composite index gave up early gains, falling 0.2 percent to 3,048.44. Shares in Southeast Asia were higher.

China reported its economy expanded at a steady 6.7 percent pace in April-June, as recovering spending on construction by state-owned companies helped compensate for weak private sector demand.

“While China is almost certainly expanding at a slower rate than its GDP data suggest, rapid state sector investment does appear to have kept growth broadly stable last quarter,” Mark Williams and Daniel Martin of Capital Economics said in a commentary. “In other words, while policy easing over the past year has so far failed to a drive a rebound, today’s figures suggest that it has at least put a floor underneath growth.”

JPMorgan Chase released results Thursday that were better than analysts expected, spurring gains in most industries. “Optimism is starting to creep into the market,” said Brad Sorensen, director of the Schwab Center for Financial Research. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 0.7 percent to 18,506.41, the S&P 500 gained 0.5 percent to 2,163.75 and the Nasdaq composite advanced 0.6 percent to 5,034.06. The Dow and S&P 500 remain at record highs, though the Nasdaq is barely positive for the year.

Japanese messaging app Line surged 27 percent on Thursday, its first day of trading in New York, a gain of $8.74 to $41.58. The company’s shares shot up 42 percent by midday Friday in its first day of trading on the Tokyo exchange. Line has more users than Facebook or Twitter in Japan.

The British pound rose to $1.3405 from $1.3345 a day earlier. The euro rose to $1.1119 from $1.1110 and the dollar rose to 105.66 yen from 105.26 yen.

Benchmark U.S. crude slipped 33 cents to $45.35 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It gained 93 cents to $45.68 a barrel on Thursday. Brent crude, a standard for international oil prices, fell 45 cents to $46.94 a barrel. It rose $1.11 to close at $47.37 a barrel in London.