Asian stocks rose Monday following Wall Street’s gains as investors looked ahead to economic data this week from China, Australia and Korea.
KEEPING SCORE: Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 rose 0.9 percent to 16,985.20 and the Shanghai Composite Index gained 0.2 percent to 2,825.79. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng added 0.4 percent to 20,668.57 and benchmarks in New Zealand, the Philippines and Indonesia also advanced. Sydney’s S&P ASX 200 was unchanged at 5,402.80 and Seoul’s Kospi held steady at 1,967.39.
WALL STREET: Stocks recorded their strongest week in almost three months. Banks gained after Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen said the central bank intends to keep raising interest rates provided the economy improves. Banks stand to make bigger profits on lending if interest rates rise. Phone companies traded higher after Verizon reportedly agreed in principle to a new contract with striking employees. Alphabet led technology stocks higher. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 44.93 points, or 0.3 percent, to 17,783.22. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index added 8.96 points, or 0.4 percent, to 2,099.06. The Nasdaq composite index picked up 31.74 points, or 0.6 percent, to 4,933.50.
YELLEN’S OUTLOOK: Yellen said it will be appropriate to raise interest rates in the next few months if the economy improves. She emphasized that the Fed will move slowly and carefully. There were signs of that improvement throughout the week, including increased home sales. The Commerce Department said the U.S. economy grew a bit more in the first quarter than it previously estimated. In recent months stocks have slumped when investors thought the Fed might be about to raise interest rates. That may have changed this week.
ANALYST’S TAKE: “Janet Yellen’s remarks on Friday confirm that at least one increase in the Fed rate is likely this year. Traders will take confidence from the fact that stock markets are firm in the face of this confirmation. As far as the markets are concerned, the timing of the next Fed increase now becomes the central issue,” said Ric Spooner of CMC Markets in a report.
WEEK AHEAD: Investors were looking ahead to China’s May manufacturing index due out Wednesday and first-quarter gross domestic product for India on Tuesday, Australia on Wednesday and South Korea on Thursday.
ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude gained 3 cents to $49.36 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract shed 15 cents on Friday to $49.33 per barrel. Brent crude, used to price international oils, declined 5 cents to $49.90 per barrel in London. The contract declined 22 cents the previous session to $49.95.
CURRENCY: The dollar gained to 110.96 yen from Friday’s 110.23. The euro edged down to $1.1102 from $1.1116.