INTERNATIONAL NEWS - Hopes that US lawmakers would pass Joe Biden's huge stimulus package helped push Asian markets higher again Monday, while traders were also cheered by falling infection rates and the rollout of vaccines.
After a rout at the end of January, the global rally across equities appeared to be back on track, despite concerns that valuations may have become a little too frothy.
A well-below-forecast jobs report out of the US ramped up expectations that Congress would pass Biden's $1.9 trillion spending bill in the next few weeks.
Figures showed the economy created less than half the jobs than expected last month, which analysts said reinforced the need for a new, big rescue package to go alongside the Federal Reserve's ultra-loose monetary policy.
"The US January employment report is nearly perfect from a market point of view as it will justify full-throttle stimulus from both monetary and fiscal concerns," said Axi strategist Stephen Innes.
"For President Biden in particular, payrolls make quite a big difference, providing the justification he needs to go full steam ahead towards $1.9 trillion. Unquestionably... there will be a growing belief that he could get relatively close to that number through reconciliation."
All three main indexes on Wall Street ended on a positive note, with the Nasdaq and S&P 500 clocking up new records, and Asia followed suit to extend last week's strong gains.
Tokyo led the advance, putting on more than two percent, while Hong Kong, Sydney, Singapore, Jakarta and Bangkok also enjoyed a strong showing. There were also gains in Shanghai but Seoul was in the red with Manila.
"It does seem to be the case that global markets have now become addicted to stimulus and that the greatest risk to the outlook - and potential trigger for a correction in risk-asset valuations - would be central banks dialing down the music," Simon Ballard, at First Abu Dhabi Bank, said.
Sentiment was also being supported by improving data on the virus front, with rates sitting around levels last seen in October, and Innes added: "As the (virus) curve flattens further, encouraging more reopenings, the gale-force stimulus tailwinds should rocket risk into the stratosphere."
Observers said the slowing rate of new cases was mostly because of containment measures but that the outlook continued to improve as governments press ahead with their inoculation programmes.
Key figures around 0230 GMT
Tokyo - Nikkei 225: UP 2.1 percent at 29,378.18 (break)
Hong Kong - Hang Seng: UP 0.7 percent at 29,478.06
Shanghai - Composite: UP 0.2 percent at 3,503.17
Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.2034 from $1.2048 at 2200 GMT Friday
Dollar/yen: UP at 105.49 yen from 105.38 yen
Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.3726 from $1.3735
Euro/pound: DOWN at 87.67 pence from 87.71 pence
West Texas Intermediate: UP 0.9 percent at $57.36 per barrel
Brent North Sea crude: UP 0.8 percent at $59.81 per barrel
New York - Dow: UP 0.3 percent at 31,148.24 (close)
London - FTSE 100: DOWN 0.2 percent at 6,489.33 (close)
- Bloomberg News contributed to this story -