Asian Stocks Mixed After Wall Street Gains

A man walks past an electronic stock board showing Japan's Nikkei 225 at a securities firm in Tokyo Tuesday, March 22, 2016. Asian shares were mixed Tuesday following modest gains on Wall Street and a contraction of an indicator of Japanese manufacturing activity in March, the first in 10 months. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)
A man walks past an electronic stock board showing Japan’s Nikkei 225 at a securities firm in Tokyo. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

Asian stocks were mixed Thursday after Wall Street gained on expectations U.S. interest rates will stay low.

Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 fell 0.6 percent to 16,782.77 points and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was off 0.3 percent to 20,738.83. The Shanghai Composite Index was up just under 0.1 percent to 3,002.28, Sydney’s S&P ASX 200 gained 1.4 percent to 5,082.80 and Seoul’s Kospi shed 0.5 percent to 1,992.71. India’s Sensex advanced 0.3 percent to 25,413.98 and benchmarks in Taiwan and New Zealand also gained. Singapore and Bangkok retreated.

Traders were encouraged by U.S. Federal Reserve chairwoman Janet Yellen’s comments affirming plans to move slowly in raising rates. Analysts noted Yellen repeated previous statements which they said still allow for rate hikes. “Global markets will probably still have to contend with more Fed tightening this year,” said Julian Jessop of Capital Economics in a report. But traders were reassured following suggestions by other Fed officials in favor of considering earlier rate hikes.

“How long is this rebound going to last? No one can really give an answer at the moment; but one thing for sure is that Yellen’s reaffirmed dovish stance gave the market sufficient comfort and room to breathe,” said Margaret Yang Yan of CMC Markets in a report. “The chance of an April rate hike has diminished, and whether or not a June hike will materialize has now become more questionable.”

Stocks rose Wednesday as technology companies traded higher and consumer companies gained steam. The financial sector recovered some of its losses. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 83.55 points, or 0.5 percent, to 17,716.66. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index gained 8.94 points, or 0.4 percent, to 2,063.95. The Nasdaq composite index added 22.67 points, or 0.5 percent, to 4,869.29.

Benchmark U.S. crude fell 51 cents to $37.81 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract gained 4 cents on Wednesday to close at $38.32. Brent crude, used to price international oils, shed 45 cents to $39.60 in London. It advanced 20 cents on Wednesday to $40.05.

The dollar was unchanged at 112.35 yen. The euro edged up to $1.1322 from the previous day’s $1.1335.