BoE stimulus sledgehammer lifts Asia stocks


Most Asian markets rose Friday while the pound was steady after the Bank of England announced a post-Brexit interest rate cut and surprise stimulus, as traders awaited the release of key US jobs data.Regional investors pressed on with Thursday’s rally after the British central bank met expectations by cutting borrowing costs for the first time in seven years, to a record low of 0.25 percent.While the move had been widely tipped, BoE policymakers also unveiled an emergency package worth up to £170 billion ($223 billion), including £60 billion for more bond-buying, or quantitative easing (QE).The bank had flagged a rate cut after Britain’s shock vote on June 23 to leave theEuropean Union, which it said would hit the country’s economy. As such, it slashed its growth outlook for next year and 2018.The news sent sterling plunging Thursday to $1.3114 in New York, from around $1.33 earlier in Asia. In afternoon Tokyo trade Friday it was at $1.3128.But while the pound tanked, European markets rallied, with London’s FTSE 100 adding 1.6 percent.And the positive sentiment flowed through to Asia, where Hong Kong closed up 1.4 percent, while Sydney added 0.4 percent and Seoul gained 0.9 percent, Wellington put on 0.1 percent and Taipei 0.8 percent.- US jobs in focus -Tokyo pared early gains to end flat as an initial rally in the dollar against the yen ran out of steam. In late Asian trade the dollar bought 101.09 yen compared with 101.22 yen late Thursday. Shanghai eased 0.2 percent by the close.In early European trade the FTSE and Paris each added 0.4 percent while Frankfurtgained 0.2 percent.The measures out of London also came as a relief after a string of disappointing announcements by global central banks from Tokyo to Europe that came up well short of expectations and dampened buying sentiment.Attention now turns to the US, where July job creation figures will be released later in the day, and will provide the latest snapshot of the world’s top economy and theFederal Reserve’s plans for its own monetary policy.The “employment number is the catalyst for the market — that’s what is going to rule the pricing trends over the next few weeks”, Jim Davis, regional investment manager at the Private Client Reserve of US Bank, told Bloomberg News.While June’s reading was a blockbuster that fanned talk of a rate hike this year, the release of below-forecast second-quarter economic growth figures threw cold water on the idea.”While improved sentiment is reflected especially in the equities market today, the US data is something to keenly watch as it may fuel concerns of a rate hike,” Heo Pil Seok, chief executive officer at Midas International Asset Management in Seoul, said.

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