Asia stocks extend gains, Tokyo lifted by weak yen

GMT 05:02 2015 Monday ,25 May

Arab Today, arab today Asia stocks extend gains, Tokyo lifted by weak yen

Asian markets
Hong Kong - AFP

Asian markets advanced on Monday, continuing a rally at the end of last week, with Tokyo boosted by a weaker yen after the head of the Federal Reserve stuck to her plan to raise interest rates by the year's end.

The euro suffered further losses as Greece warned it did not have enough money to service its debts next month unless it receives the rest of its bailout cash.

Tokyo added 0.54 percent, Sydney put on 0.73 percent and Shanghai added 0.50 percent while Singapore rose 0.30 percent.

Hong Kong and Seoul were closed for public holidays.

Fed chief Janet Yellen said on Friday she expects to hike rates from historic lows "at some point this year", warning that a delay could risk overheating the economy. However, she also said there were still weaknesses, including slackness in the job market despite unemployment at 5.4 percent.

Her comments came two days after minutes of the Fed's April policy board meeting made clear that slow growth in recent months meant it was not expecting a rise before late July.

Adding to the dollar's strength was news from the US Department of Commerce that core consumer prices -- which exclude food and energy -- jumped 0.3 percent in April from March, the largest one-month rise in more than two years.

The dollar was at 121.57 yen early Monday, against 121.52 yen in New York and sharply up from 120.71 in Tokyo earlier Friday.

"Inflation is speeding up a little in the US, and we can see the intention to raise rates sometime this year," Shoji Hirakawa, chief equity strategist at Okasan Securities Co in Tokyo said by phone. "When we consider the US versus Japan, rates will be higher in the States. Japan's rate hikes and tapering will be further into the future."

- Greece 'out of cash' -

Japan has for the past two years been embarking on a bond-buying programme that pumps cash into the financial markets -- which hits demand for the yen -- in a bid to defeat deflation.

The euro fell to $1.0983 and 133.63 yen from $1.1016 and 133.86 yen in US trade as investors grow worried about Greece's ongoing bailout overhaul talks.

Interior Minister Nikos Voutsis told Mega TV that Athens has nothing with which to pay the International Monetary Fund ahead of a June 5 deadline.

"The instalments for the IMF in June are 1.6 billion euros. This money will not be given. There isn't any to be given. This is a known fact," he said.

Nevertheless, the minister believes that negotiations between Athens and its creditors were taking place "on the basis of cautious optimism that there will be a strong agreement".

Athens has been locked in months-long discussions with the IMF and European Union over restructuring its bailout terms in order to release the last batch of rescue money to pay its bills.

However, with both sides unable to agree a deal there are fears the country will default, which could see it tumble out of the eurozone.

On Wall Street the Dow fell 0.29 percent, the S&P 500 lost 0.22 percent and the Nasdaq eased 0.03 percent

Oil prices were higher. US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for July delivery rose nine cents to $59.81 a barrel and Brent crude for July added seven cents to $65.44.

Gold fetched $1,202.38 compared with $1,212.40 late Friday.

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