Asian markets mostly rose on Wednesday following a positive lead from Wall Street, while European Group of Seven members promised a speedy response to the continent’s debt crisis.
The euro edged higher as traders looked to a European Central Bank policy meeting later in the day amid hopes of easing measures, although investors were still nervous after Standard & Poor’s warned of a possible Greek euro exit.
Tokyo closed up 1.81 per cent, or 151.53 points, at 8,533.53, while Sydney edged up 0.29, or 11.6 points, to close at 4,055.3, after data showed the economy grew better than expected in the January-March period.
Hong Kong was 1.43 per cent, or 261.50 points, higher at 18,520.53 and Shanghai eased 0.10 per cent, or 2.37 points, to 2,309.55.
Seoul was closed for a public holiday.
Also providing some support was a report in the Wall Street Journal saying the Federal Reserve was again contemplating stimulus measures in the wake of weak data from Asia to Europe and the United States.
“There’s quite a lot of talk about this today,” IG Markets institutional dealer Chris Weston told Dow Jones Newswires. “It’s putting a fundamental floor under risk assets.”
In an emergency teleconference on Tuesday, the European members of the Group of Seven industrialised economies vowed to respond “speedily” to the continent’s crisis, according to Japanese Finance Minister Jun Azumi.
“We were able to share our recognition on the European issue,” he was quoted as saying by Jiji Press after the G7 ministers and central bank chiefs talked.
“The European side stated that they will respond to it speedily.”
Some analysts expressed disappointment, however, saying the leaders appeared to lack a sense of urgency.
European leaders are under mounting pressure to take bold steps at an end-June summit to save the euro as Eurozone states buckle under the pressure of recession and debt.
The White House said it hoped for “accelerated” action in coming weeks ahead of a G20 summit in Mexico later in June.
Tuesday’s talks came after Spain asked for help for its under-pressure banking system in order to avoid a bailout.
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has called for a European banking union that would be able to provide aid to lenders, a move that was seeing support in France and at the ECB. Germany remains strongly opposed.
Another Eurozone member Cyprus also warned there was a serious possibility it may need EU aid to save its banking system, which is heavily exposed to Greece.
Meanwhile Standard & Poor’s warned there was a one in three chance Greece will exit the Eurozone in the months after June 17 polls, particularly if anti-austerity parties — who fared well in initial polls — were to win.
In Australia, stellar growth provided a bright spot, with Treasurer Wayne Swan hailing the figures in the mining-driven economy as “remarkable.”
The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) said the 1.3 per cent quarter-on-quarter expansion, compared with an upwardly-revised 0.6 per cent for the final quarter of 2012, took annual growth to 4.3 per cent.
The figures beat forecasts of 0.7 per cent and 3.4 per cent respectively.
But analysts warned against too much optimism over the figures amid fears over weakness in Europe as well as the easing growth in key trade partner China.
On currency markets the euro bought $1.2513 and 99.10 yen in early European trade, against $1.2450 and 98.03 yen in New York late on Tuesday. The dollar rose to 79.20 yen from 78.72 yen.
In New York stocks ended higher after the Institute for Supply Management’s index on the services sector — which accounts for about 70 per cent of the US economy — rose unexpectedly.
The Dow ended 0.22 per cent higher on Tuesday, the S&P 500 gained 0.57 per cent and the Nasdaq Composite was up 0.66 per cent.
Oil was up in late afternoon trade. New York’s main contract, West Texas Intermediate crude for delivery in July, was up $1.01 to $85.30 per barrel while Brent North Sea crude for July gained 86 cents to $99.70.
Gold was up at $1,635.34 an ounce at 8.15am, compared with $1,617.60 late on Tuesday.