Asian Markets Up in Light Holiday Trading, Wary of BOJ Moves

A man looks at an electronic stock indicator of a securities firm in Tokyo, Monday, Aug. 1, 2016. Shares were higher Monday in Asia, as investors shrugged off disappointing growth data from the U.S. and lackluster but better-than-expected manufacturing figures for China. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)
A man looks at an electronic stock indicator of a securities firm in Tokyo. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)

Stocks edged higher in Asia on Friday, with many regional markets closed for mid-autumn holidays. Investors are watching to see if the Bank of Japan will opt to ease its lax monetary policy further at a policy meeting next week.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 index gained 0.6 percent to 16,508.26 and Australia’s S&P ASX 200 added 1.0 percent to 5,295.68. The Sensex in India jumped 1.2 percent to 28,758.51. Shares also were higher in Indonesia and Singapore. Markets were closed in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and South Korea.

U.S. stocks climbed Thursday as Apple led a big gain for technology companies, and energy companies recovered some of their recent losses. Investors mulled mixed economic reports seeking clues about the Federal Reserve’s intentions and the health of the economy. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 1 percent to 18,212.48. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index also jumped 1 percent, to 2,147.26. The Nasdaq composite gained 1.5 percent to 5,249.69.

Some analysts believe the Bank of Japan may increase asset purchases up to 100 trillion yen a year from the current level, or take its negative policy rate to minus 0.3 percent from minus 0.1 percent. But expectations have risen that the central bank will take fresh action to spur growth.

“Added to the mix is uncertainty over the Bank of Japan’s next move,” Bernard Aw of IG said in a commentary. “Whatever is the case, market volatility is likely to ratchet up as we head into next week.”

Overnight, the Bank of England kept its main interest rate unchanged at a record low of 0.25 percent after a run of better-than-anticipated news after voters opted to leave the European Union. The Monetary Policy Committee noted a “less negative” near-term outlook for the housing market and better than anticipated consumption data.

Benchmark U.S. crude lost 36 cents to $43.56 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It rose 33 cents Thursday to $43.91 per barrel. Brent crude, used to price international oils, fell 39 cents to $46.20 per barrel. It gained 74 cents in London.

The euro slipped to $1.1239 from $1.1248 while the dollar rose to 102.08 yen from 101.97 yen.

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