Asian Shares Inch Higher As Fed Reiterates Support

Asian shares ended Thursday’s session mostly higher amid continued optimism concerning U.S. stimulus and vaccine rollouts.

Underlying sentiment was underpinned after the U.S. Federal Reserve signaled that it would keep very easy policy in place until it sees “substantial further progress” in employment and inflation.

Chinese shares rose amid optimism over a swift economic recovery. The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index rallied 37.89 points, or 1.1 percent, to 3,404.87, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index ended up 218.09 points, or 0.8 percent, at 26,678.38.

Japanese shares ended slightly higher, with U.S. stimulus hopes and a pledge of support from the Federal Reserve boosting sentiment. The Nikkei 225 Index reversed an early slide to end up 49.27 points, or 0.2 percent, at 26,806.67, while the broader Topix closed 0.3 percent higher at 1,792.58.

Nintendo jumped 6.6 percent and Keyence Corp. surged 5.3 percent, while Daiichi Sankyo lost 4.4 percent. Japan Post Insurance soared 10 percent on reports that it plans to buy back $2.9 billion of its own shares from its parent Japan Post Holdings. Shares of the latter gained 3.6 percent.

Australian markets rallied after data from the statistics bureau showed employment in the country jumped by 90,000 in November versus an expected 40,000 gain. The jobless rate dropped last month to 6.8 percent from 7.0 percent.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index climbed 77.50 points, or 1.2 percent, to 6,756.70, while the broader All Ordinaries Index ended up 83.40 points, or 1.2 percent, at 7,000.10.

The big four banks rose between 0.6 percent and 1.3 percent, while mining heavyweights BHP and Rio Tinto surged about 2 percent. Crown Resorts edged up slightly after saying it will go ahead with the December opening of its new Sydney complex.

Seoul stocks ended largely unchanged with a negative bias as investors remained wary of spiking Covid-19 cases and looming virus restrictions.

Health authorities are considering stricter measures as the country battles a third wave of coronavirus infections. There were 1,014 new coronavirus cases today, marking the third-largest daily virus caseload.

Market bellwether Samsung Electronics gave up 0.7 percent, while No. 2 chipmaker SK Hynix advanced 1.7 percent and leading chemical firm LG Chem added 1.3 percent.

New Zealand shares advanced as official data showed the country’s economy grew a record 14 percent in the third quarter, beating the Reserve Bank of New Zealand’s November forecast for quarterly growth. The benchmark NZX-50 Index rose 59.78 points, or 0.5 percent, to 12,888.77.

U.S. stocks ended mixed overnight as investors reacted to downbeat economic data and kept an eye on stimulus negotiations and vaccine rollouts.

The Fed left its key interest rate near zero, as widely expected, and pledged to keep buying bonds until the economy shows substantial progress.

A change in language indicated that the purchases could continue for longer than previously believed.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 0.2 percent, while the S&P 500 edged up 0.2 percent. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite rose half a percent to hit a fresh record closing high.

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