BANGKOK: A rally in U.S. technology shares, spurred by earnings that blasted past expectations, boosted world stock markets Thursday and helped drive the Australian dollar to a 28-year high against the greenback.European shares were higher in early trading, with Britain’s FTSE 100 up 0.1 percent to 6,030.38 and Germany’s DAX 0.5 percent higher to 7,284.35. The CAC-40 in Paris rose 0.2 percent to 4,013.45. Signals from Wall Street augured a higher opening, with Dow Jones industrial futures up 42 points to 12,438, and S&P 500 futures gaining 6 points to 1,334.30.In Asia, tech shares enjoyed a spillover effect from earnings reported by U.S. technology behemoths like Intel Corp. and Apple Inc. that beat analyst expectations. Late Wednesday, Apple announced that its earnings had nearly doubled, helped by demand for its hit iPhone. Intel shares rose 7.8 percent after the chip maker reported that its income rose 29 percent in the first quarter because of rising demand for personal computers.
That helped boost Japanese chipmaker Elpida Memory Inc. by 3.6 percent. Korea’s Hynix Semiconductor soared 7.9 percent and Samsung Electronics Co. rose 1.3 percent.Japan’s Nikkei 225 index closed up 0.8 percent to 9,685.77, South Korea’s Kospi index rose 1.3 percent to 2,198.54, and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng added 1 percent to 24,138.31.Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 rose 1.1 percent to 4,913.80. Mainland China’s Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.7 percent to 3,026.67. Benchmarks in Singapore, Taiwan and New Zealand China were also higher.The Australian dollar, meanwhile, surged against the U.S. dollar after the strong earnings from tech bellwethers added to confidence in the global economic recovery and sent investors flocking to so-called high yielding currencies. Australia’s benchmark interest rate is much higher than the U.S., giving investors better returns, and it is likely to be increased further if world growth gains momentum.
“There’s been a general rise in risk appetite, reflected not only in equities but in Asian currencies, which have strengthened as well,” Cohen said. The Australian dollar surged to $1.0741 on Thursday — its highest level since it was floated in December 1983.In other currencies, the euro rose to $1.4617 from $1.4514 in New York on Wednesday. The dollar fell to 82.11 yen from 82.37 yen.Investors were willing to take risks because the overall view is that the global recovering is “continuing with a healthy momentum,” Cohen said.Rising crude prices helped oil-related stocks. Inpex Corp., Japan’s largest energy explorer, jumped 3.5 percent. PetroChina Co. Ltd. was up 1.9 percent. But airline shares, whose operations are hurt when fuel prices rise, slumped. China Eastern Airlines Corp. dropped 2.5 percent, Korean Air Lines Co. lost 1.7 percent.
Oil prices have increased 20 percent since the beginning of the year as investors anticipated rising global demand while unrest in North Africa and the Middle East threatened oil fields and shipping lanes vital to world supply.Benchmark crude for June delivery rose 56 cents to $112.01 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose $3.17 to settle at $111.45 on the Nymex on Wednesday.On Wall Street, strong earnings from technology companies including Intel sent stocks sharply higher. The Nasdaq composite index had its biggest one-day jump in six months, and the Dow Jones industrial average closed at its highest level in nearly three years.Yahoo Inc. rose 4.6 percent after reporting that cost-cutting efforts pushed its earnings above Wall Street’s expectations. IBM Corp. also beat earnings expectations.The Dow jumped 1.5 percent to close at 12,453.54. That’s the highest close since June 5, 2008. The Nasdaq rose 2.1 percent to 2,802.51. The tech-heavy index hadn’t jumped that much since Oct. 5. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 1.4 percent to 1,330.36.Stocks took a steep slide Monday after Standard & Poor’s warned that it might lower its rating on U.S. government debt in the next two years. The Dow lost 140 points. Yahoonews