Financial stocks lead Asian market gains – MarketWatch

Asia-Pacific stocks started the week higher, led by financial stocks in Hong Kong and Singapore as markets in China and Japan are closed for holidays.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index HSI, +1.56%  , after underperforming of late with two straight weeks of declines, rose 1.5% early Monday as financial stocks climbed about 2% after China’s central bank said late Friday it would give banks and asset managers longer than expected to comply with new rules intended to rein in risky lending in the financial system.

Beaten-down smartphone-parts makers also gave the HSI a boost, with Sunny Optical 2382, +3.90%   rebounding 4% in early trade and AAC Technologies 2018, +1.24%   gaining nearly 2%.

Singapore’s Strait Times Index STI, +1.16%   climbed 1.2%, hitting a fresh three-month high, as stronger than expected earnings from the city-state’s biggest bank sent the sector more than 2% higher.

DBS D05, +3.17%   hit fresh highs following the report, putting its April gains at 12%, while United Overseas Bank U11, +2.82%   and Oversea-Chinese Banking O39, +1.76%   also rose to new records. UOB and OCBC are scheduled to report results early May.

Moves were muted elsewhere, though Korea’s Kospi SEU, +0.92%   rose 0.4% on a rally in steel stocks. Metal buyers are seeking supply ahead of the Trump administration’s decision on steel and aluminum tariffs. Index heavyweight Posco 005490, +6.13%   was up 5%.

Countries that accounted for about two-thirds of the steel and aluminum imported into the U.S. last year were excused from duties of 25% on imported steel and 10% on aluminum that the Trump administration implemented on March 23. Officials put a May 1 deadline on those exemptions as an incentive for countries to negotiate longer-term deals with the U.S.

The deadline could be extended, said Greg McKenna, chief market strategist at FX provider AxiTrader.

On the data front, China’s official manufacturing purchasing managers index inched down to 51.4 in April from 51.5 in March, the National Bureau of Statistics said. A reading above 50 indicates an expansion and the index has been above that level for 21 months, the longest run since the end of 2014.

Trading in Asia will likely be thin this week, with many of the region’s markets closed for the Labour Day holiday on Tuesday and Japanese markets shut for holidays on Thursday and Friday.

Over in the U.S., market participants will be focusing on the Federal Reserve’s meeting and April jobs report.

Bond, currencies and commodity markets were also largely quiet early Monday in Asia. Crude prices remained in a tight trading range, shedding 0.2% after hitting a 3½-year high last week.