By Ese Erheriene
Asia-Pacific stocks rebounded 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 volatile this week as investors tried to gauge what action will come from recent U.S. protectionist rhetoric.
Markets are seesawing because of the trade-tariff uncertainty, said Jingyi Pan, a market strategist at IG Group.
Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index, which saw seen some of the week's biggest declines, was up over 1%. South Korea's Kospi index was up 1.3% and gains of at least 0.5% were logged in Taiwan, New Zealand, Australia.
The Nikkei Stock Average faded in late trade and ended up 0.5% after finishing morning trading with a 0.8% gain. That market was aided early by an overnight pullback in the yen, after it rallied Wednesday in the wake of Mr. Cohn's resignation.
S&P 500 futures were recently down less than 0.1%, and 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 economic growth data revised sharply 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 shed modest morning gains in Asia after falling 2% overnight following government data showed U.S. output hit fresh record highs last week.
Bitcoin's price fell back below $10,000 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 [email protected]