Investing.com - Asian stock markets rose on Wednesday after better-than-expected U.S. retail sales figures and a record rise in Chinese foreign exchange reserves.
On Tuesday the U.S. Commerce Department reported that retail sales rose 0.2% in December, beating expectations for a 0.1% increase. Investors applauded the data and viewed last week's disappointing December U.S. jobs report as glitch in an economy that remains on course to recovery.
Earlier today, the People's Bank of China reported that the country's foreign exchange reserves rose to $3.82 trillion in 2013 in comparison to 3.66 trillion in 2012. The 2013 figure beat the expectation of $3.80 trillion.
The Nikkei 225 rose 2.22% in the morning trading, the Hang Seng index rose by 0.37%, while the Shanghai Composite index traded flat.
The U.S. core retail sales, which exclude automobile sales, expanded by 0.7% in December, well above forecasts for a 0.4% increase.
The numbers sent investors snapping up stocks on sentiments that the underlying economy is improving at a time that monetary policy will still remain accommodative even after the Federal Reserve winds down its bond-purchasing program, which supports stock prices by suppressing long-term interest rates.
Earlier at the close of U.S. trading on Tuesday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.71%, the S&P 500 index rose 1.08%, while the Nasdaq Composite index rose 1.69%.
Leading Dow Jones Industrial Average performers included Intel, up 3.94%, Microsoft, up 2.27%, and 3M, up 2.00%.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average's worst performers included Boeing, down 0.44%, Merck, down 0.24%, and United Technologies, down 0.15%.
European indices, meanwhile, finished higher.
After the close of European trade, the EURO STOXX 50 rose 0.16%, France's CAC 40 rose 0.26%, while Germany's DAX 30 rose 0.32%. Meanwhile, in the U.K. the FTSE 100 finished up 0.14%.
Later today, the U.S. is to release data on producer price inflation and a report on manufacturing activity in the New York region.
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