Asian Shares Mostly Higher Before Central Banks’ Decisions

A man looks at an electronic stock board showing Japan’s Nikkei 225 index at a securities firm in Tokyo, Monday. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

Asian shares were mostly higher Monday as investors awaited central bank decisions and earnings reports due out in coming weeks. U.S. stock markets will be closed for Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 edged 0.2% higher to close at 24,083.51, while Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 added 0.2% to 7,079.50. South Korea’s Kospi rose 0.5% to 2,261.27, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng lost 0.7% to 28,860.25. The Shanghai Composite index gained 0.5% to 3,089.66.

China’s central bank left its one-year loan prime rate unchanged at 4.15%, holding off on easing credit further as it uses other methods to pump up liquidity in the markets ahead of the Lunar New Year.

The rate, based on quotes from major banks, was made China’s benchmark in August. The People’s Bank of China can indirectly influence it through its own interest rate decisions, and “appears to have adopted a wait-and-see approach in response to the recent improvement in the economic data,” Julian Evans-Pritchard of Capital Economics said in a commentary.

However, “with growth likely to come under renewed pressure, we think the PBOC will resume its rate cuts before long,” he said.

Elsewhere, investors are looking to a statement from the Bank of Japan when its two-day policy meeting ends on Tuesday. The European central bank will make an interest rate decision later in the week. Markets are also watching for earnings reports expected in coming weeks by companies around the world.

On Friday, Wall Street capped a milestone-setting week with more modest gains that nudged the major stock indexes to all-time highs.

The benchmark S&P 500 index also notched its second-straight weekly gain.

Technology stocks powered much of the market’s broad gains, along with communication services companies and banks. Energy sector stocks were the only decliners. Bond prices fell, sending yields higher.

The latest batch of positive corporate earnings reports and economic data has helped keep investors in a buying mood after the midweek signing of an initial trade deal by the U.S. and China. Progress on trade has eased fears on Wall Street about the potential for the dispute to escalate further.

The S&P 500 index rose 0.4% to 3,329.62. The benchmark index also set all-time highs on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.2% to 29,348.10, while the Nasdaq added 0.3% to 9,388.94.

The Russell 2000 index of smaller company stocks dropped 0.3% to 1,699.64.

To Read The Full Story

Are you already a subscriber?
Click to log in!