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Markets across Asia rose on Friday as sentiment was boosted by positive economic data out of China and tailwinds from the successful listing of UK chip designer Arm.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng stock index led the region higher with a rise of 1.7 per cent, while Tokyo’s Topix gained 1.2 per cent and South Korea’s Kospi advanced 1.3 per cent. China’s CSI 300 index of Shanghai- and Shenzhen-listed stocks reversed earlier losses in the day to be up 0.1 per cent.
The gains for Asian equities came in the wake of official data showing retail sales and industrial production rose more than analysts had expected. China’s economy has struggled to rebound after disruptive zero-Covid measures were lifted late last year, and investors are on high alert for signs that recent stimulus measures may be gaining traction.
“There’s a growing sense of optimism among a cohort of investors who believe that Beijing’s recent initiatives to stimulate the economy and stabilise financial markets are showing signs of success,” said Stephen Innes, managing partner at SPI Asset Management.
Innes added that “a single month of positive data isn’t sufficient to confirm a sustained path to recovery”.
The positive data came after the People’s Bank of China cut banks’ reserve requirement ratio by 0.25 percentage points to 7.4 per cent, freeing up an estimated Rmb500bn ($70bn) in liquidity for lenders.
Analysts at Goldman Sachs wrote in a note that the cut would help compensate for a recent surge in local government bond issuance in recent weeks, which has drained liquidity from the banking system and pushed up the cost of interbank lending.
“Injecting liquidity through the reserve requirement ratio cut would help suppress interbank interest rates amid high liquidity demand, and ensure low funding cost for banks,” the analysts wrote.
Market sentiment was also bolstered by the debut of chip designer Arm, which closed its first trading day up almost 25 per cent in New York.
The almost $5bn listing by the SoftBank-backed company marked the largest initial public offering on Wall Street in nearly two years, with day-one share price gains pushing its market capitalisation to more than $65bn.
Both the S&P 500 and tech-focused Nasdaq Composite closed almost 1 per cent higher on Thursday.
Futures tipped the S&P 500 to rise 0.2 per cent when trading begins on Wall Street later in the day, while the FTSE 100 was set to rise 0.5 per cent.