Asian Shares Rally, Helped by Wall Street, Japan Trade Data

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) —
Currency traders work at the foreign exchange dealing room of the KEB Hana Bank headquarters in Seoul, South Korea, Thursday. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

Asian share benchmarks rose Thursday after an overnight advance on Wall Street fueled by strong corporate earnings. Strong trade data and expectations for continued lavish monetary stimulus from Japan’s central bank pushed Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 index up 0.6 percent.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 advanced 0.6 percent to 20,144.59 and South Korea’s Kospi gained 0.5 percent to 2,441.84. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index rose 0.3 percent to 26,754.46 and the Shanghai Composite Index was up 0.2 percent to 3,238.64. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.5 percent to 5,761.50. Stocks in Southeast Asia were mixed.

Japan’s central bank opted to keep its lavish monetary stimulus intact while downgrading its outlook for inflation. The Bank of Japan’s policy meeting ended Thursday with no change to its injections of trillions of yen (hundreds of billions of dollars) into the economy each year through government bond purchases. Analysts also expect the European Central Bank to keep its policy rate unchanged later in the day and give more hints on the euro-zone’s inflation outlook.

“While the Bank of Japan turned more upbeat on the economy, renewed reductions in the Board’s inflation forecasts underline that policy tightening is a long way off,” Marcel Thieliant of Capital Economics said in a commentary.

Upbeat economic growth and forecasts for China and the rest of the region, followed by news that Japan’s exports rose nearly 10 percent in June from a year earlier, also brightened sentiment. A recovery in demand from China is helping sustain growth across the region.

U.S. stocks advanced to fresh record highs on Wednesday, led by technology, health care and energy companies. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 0.5 percent to 2,473.83. The Dow Jones industrial average added 0.3 percent to 21,640.75. The Nasdaq composite gained 0.6 percent to 6,385.04. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks jumped 1 percent to 1,441.77.

Benchmark U.S. crude lost 3 cents to $47.29 per barrel in electronic trading on New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract finished at $47.12 a barrel on Wednesday, up 72 cents, or 1.6 percent. Brent crude, the standard for international oil prices, dipped 5 cents to $49.65 per barrel in London. It gained 86 cents, or 1.7 percent, to close at $49.70 per barrel in the previous session.

The dollar strengthened to 112.12 yen from 111.89 yen. The euro rose slightly to $1.1519 from $1.1515.

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