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Global Stocks Bounce Back

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03/08/2018 | 05:29am CEST

By Ese Erheriene

Asia-Pacific stocks rebounded solidly Thursday, as markets in the U.S. and Europe stabilized overnight following weakness sparked by top White House economic adviser Gary Cohn's resignation.

Stock prices have been swinging up and down this week as investors have tried to gauge what action will come from recent U.S. protectionist rhetoric.

Hong Kong stocks, which have seen some of the week's biggest declines, saw the largest morning gain at nearly 1.5% for the Hang Seng. Index heavyweights including Tencent saw rebounds of at least 2%.

Most regional benchmarks were at least 0.5% higher by midday Thursday, with Taiwan, New Zealand and Singapore up almost 1%.

The Nikkei Stock Average finished morning trading with a 0.8% gain, aided by an overnight pullback in the yen following a haven rally triggered by Mr. Cohn's resignation. Electronics stocks were strong, with Nintendo and Sharp respectively rising 3.3% and 2.2%.

Some market participants don't expect this latest stock rebound to be sustainable just yet.

"There are still too many unanswered questions to think it safe to increase exposures to risk assets with any real conviction," said Chris Weston, chief market strategist at IG Markets. He said uncertainties include Thursday's expected tariff announcement from President Donald Trump.

Also looming is Thursday's European Central Bank meeting, Friday's policy statement from the Bank of Japan and the end-of-week employment report out of the U.S.

There was upbeat economic news out of Asia-Pacific on Thursday, with Japanese growth revised strongly higher. Fourth-quarter expansion has now been put at 1.6% on an annualized basis, versus a preliminary estimate of 0.5%.

Meanwhile, Australia logged a much bigger than expected trade surplus for January. Paul Dales at Capital Economics called that "welcome news," though he cautioned "it may be too early to conclude" that exports will add to the country's economic growth this quarter. They cut into gross domestic product in the fourth quarter.

China said February exports surged 44.5% from a year earlier in dollar terms while imports rose 6.3%, resulting in a surprise surplus. But start-of-year Chinese economic data are volatile because of the shifting timing of the Lunar New Year holiday. It came in mid-February this year.

In commodities, oil futures rose 0.2% from Wednesday's U.S. settlement following the overnight 2% slide as U.S. output hit fresh record highs last week.

Bitcoin's price fell back below $10,000 by midday in Asia, according to CoinDesk, after falling 10% in an hour during U.S. trading. The selling followed reports about a major bitcoin exchange in Hong Kong having problems executing orders.

Write to Ese Erheriene at ese.erheriene@wsj.com

Stocks mentioned in the article
ChangeLast1st jan.
HANG SENG 1.69% 27930.53 Real-time Quote.-6.69%
NIKKEI 225 0.82% 23869.93 Real-time Quote.4.85%
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