Asia stocks gain as Europe, China shore up banks
BANGKOK—Asian stocks surged Tuesday after a pledge by European leaders to protect the region's banks against a continent-wide debt crisis and Beijing's move to buy the shares of major Chinese lenders.
Oil prices hovered above $85 a barrel in Asia, while the dollar strengthened against the euro and the yen.
Hong Kong's Hang Seng shot up 3 percent to 18,239.58. Japan's Nikkei was 2 percent higher at 8,776.16. South Korea's Kospi rose 2.1 percent to 1,803.03, and Australia's S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.5 percent to 4,223.00.
China's Shanghai Composite Index jumped 1.1 percent to 2,369.86 a day after a government investment fund announced it had bought shares in major banks, helping to bolster the country's sagging stock market.
Benchmarks in Taiwan, Singapore, and the Philippines were also higher by 1 percent or more.
The gains in Asia followed a strong rally on Wall Street on Monday.
Stock markets worldwide were rejuvenated by signs that Europe is preparing serious steps to provide banks with the capital cushions necessary to withstand a possible debt default by Greece.
The Dow Jones industrial average soared 330 points, or 3 percent, its biggest one-day gain since Aug. 11. The Dow closed at 11,433.18 -- the highest since Sept. 16. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 3.4 percent to 1,194.89, while the Nasdaq composite index rose 3.4 percent to 2,566.05.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy said Sunday that they would finalize a comprehensive response to the debt crisis by the end of the month, including a plan to make sure European banks have adequate capital.
Investors have been worried that European leaders aren't moving quickly enough to protect financial institutions in the event of a Greek default.
A default could cause the value of Greek bonds held by European banks to plunge, hurting their balance sheets. U.S. banks would also be affected if Greece goes through a messy default, since they own Greek bonds and also have close ties to European banks.
China's four biggest state banks soared after Central Huijin Investment Ltd., an arm of the sovereign wealth fund China Investment Corp., said late Monday that it bought shares in the Industrial & Commercial Bank of China, Agricultural Bank of China, Bank of China and China Construction Bank and that it would continue its market-support operations. It didn't say how any shares it had purchased.
The banks' Hong Kong-listed shares showed significant gains. ICBC climbed 7.4 percent, Agricultural Bank shot up 10.6 percent, Bank of China gained 8.1 percent and China Construction Bank added 6.6 percent.
Benchmark crude for November delivery was down 2 cents at $85.39 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose $2.43 to settle at $85.41 in New York on Monday.
Brent crude was down 12 cents at $108.83 a barrel on the ICE Futures Exchange in London.
In currencies, the euro fell to $1.3617 from $1.3650 late Monday in New York. The dollar rose slightly to 76.65 from 76.69 yen.