Asian stocks finished broadly higher on Monday, with Japanese shares closing at a 17-month high, as the yen weakened on expectations of a rate hike at the Fed’ s June meeting and on easing concerns over the advance of populist politics in Europe.
After winning the French presidential election with some 66 percent of the vote, pro-European centrist Emmanuel Macron vowed to heal the social divisions exposed by France’s acrimonious election campaign.
Macron’s resounding defeat of a nationalist who had vowed to ditch the euro and hold a referendum on France’s EU membership brought relief to European allies who had feared another populist result after Britain’s Brexit vote.
Chinese shares bucked the regional trend to end lower after trade data disappointed investors. The benchmark Shanghai Composite index dropped 24.43 points or 0.79 percent to 3,078.61 while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index was up 72 points or 0.29 percent at 24,547 in late trade.
Chinese exports advanced an annual 14.3 percent in yuan terms in April, official data showed. The pace of growth was weaker than the expected 16.8 percent. Likewise, imports grew 18.6 percent, but slower than the 29.3 percent rise economists had forecast.
Japanese shares rallied sharply as trading resumed after last week’s Golden Week holidays. In a message delivered to Macron, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said his win was a “symbolic victory against inward-looking and protectionist moves and shows a vote of confidence in the EU.”
The benchmark Nikkei average jumped 450 points or 2.31 percent to 19,895.70, marking the highest level since early December 2015 and posting its biggest single-day percentage gain since mid-February. The broader Topix index closed 2.29 percent higher at 1,585.86, the highest level since mid December.
Automakers Honda Motor, Toyota, Mazda and Suzuki Motor climbed 1-4 percent after the euro hit a one-year high against the yen. Canon, Panasonic and Sony rallied 1-3 percent. Keyence Corp rose over 4 percent on…