Asian Stocks Advance Ahead of ECB Decision

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) —
A man watches an electronic stock board showing Japan's Nikkei 225 index at a securities firm in Tokyo Wednesday, June 8, 2016. Asian stocks were mostly lower Wednesday after the World Bank cut its global growth forecast and investors looked ahead to Chinese trade data. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)
A man watches an electronic stock board showing Japan’s Nikkei 225 index at a securities firm in Tokyo. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

Asian shares rose on Thursday after an overnight surge on U.S. markets. Investors were focused on the European Central Bank’s (ECB) meeting later in the day.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 rose 0.9 percent to 18,654.93, while South Korea’s Kospi jumped 1.3 percent to 2,016.99. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index gained 0.6 percent to 22,936.74. The Shanghai Composite Index slipped 0.1 percent to 3,220.53. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 advanced 1.2 percent to 5,545.50.

Japan’s economy grew 1.3 percent in annual terms in the July-September quarter, revised down from an earlier estimate of 2.2 percent mainly due to weaker business investment. Economists said the central bank is likely to keep its current lavish monetary easing intact for now, without pushing interest rates further into negative territory, because of the economy’s sustained expansion. China is due to report trade figures.

A decision by the ECB to not extend its stimulus program of buying €80 billion ($86 billion) in bonds a month past the current March deadline could add to concerns over Italy after its premier, Matteo Renzi, resigned Wednesday over the resounding rejection of constitutional changes he had backed in a referendum Sunday. Analysts say Donald Trump’s victory in the U.S. election and Italy’s political crisis have raised global economic risks.

“With less than four months until the expiry of the current QE program, the market is looking to the ECB to inject another boost to the market by extending the program beyond March,” said Jingyi Pan, a market strategist at IG in Singapore.

U.S. markets closed higher on Wednesday. The Dow Jones industrial average jumped 297.84 points, or 1.5 percent, to 19,549.62. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 29.12 points, or 1.3 percent, to 2,241.35. The Nasdaq composite recovered from an early loss to gain 60.76 points, or 1.1 percent, to 5,393.76.

Benchmark U.S. crude oil added 12 cents to $49.89 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract lost $1.16, or 2.3 percent, to close at $49.77 a barrel in the previous session. Brent crude, the international standard, edged down 1 cent to $53.01 a barrel in London.

The dollar fell to 113.38 yen from 113.65 yen. The euro rose to $1.0777 from $1.0764.

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