Asian stocks hit two-week highs on Wednesday as investors cheered dovish Fed talk as well as reports that China is mulling fresh stimulus to boost slowing growth in the world’s second-largest economy.
Underlying sentiment was also boosted after the International Monetary Fund said it sees a greater chance of a soft landing for the global economy.
The dollar traded well off its recent highs and Treasury yields were mixed as dovish comments from several Federal Reserve officials prompted traders to pare interest-rate expectations. Investors also awaited cues from the Fed’s meeting minutes and U.S. inflation data due this week.
Gold held steady near a more than one-week high, while oil ticked up slightly on lingering worries about supply disruptions from the Middle East as the Israel-Hamas war entered its fifth day.
Chinese shares edged up slightly, with the Shanghai Composite Index settling 0.1 percent higher at 3,078.96 after reports that China is considering raising the budget deficit for 2023.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index rallied 1.3 percent to 17,893.10, extending gains for a fifth day running.
Japanese shares hit a two-week high on dovish Fed talk. The Nikkei 225 Index climbed 0.6 percent to 31,936.51, after having crossed the psychological 32,000 mark earlier for the first time since October 2. The broader Topix Index closed 0.2 percent lower at 2,307.84.
Chip-related stocks led the rally after the Philadelphia Semiconductor Index rallied 1.3 percent overnight. Screen Holdings, Tokyo Electron and Advantest rose between 1.4 percent and 2.5 percent.
Heavyweight SoftBank Group advanced 2.6 percent. Shipping stocks underperformed, with Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha plunging 6.1 percent.
Seoul stocks posted strong gains, with technology companies and battery makers leading the surge. The Kospi jumped 2.0 percent to 2,450.08.
Chip giant Samsung Electronics added 2.7 percent despite forecasting a 78 percent drop in its third-quarter operating profit. LG Energy Solution soared 7.3 percent on strong earnings guidance.
Australian markets ended higher for a fifth consecutive session as strong commodity prices boosted mining stocks.
The benchmark S&P ASX 200 Index rose 0.7 percent to 7,088.40, marking a three-week high. The broader All Ordinaries Index ended 0.7 percent higher at 7,281.30.
Bank of Queensland slumped 7.4 percent after its annual profit tumbled about 70 percent. Qantas Airways advanced 2.7 percent on news that board chairman Richard Goyder will quit the airline.
Across the Tasman, New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 Index inched up 0.1 percent to 11,306.44, touching a two-week high. Channel Infrastructure NZ and Contact Energy both rose over 2 percent.
U.S. stocks closed higher for a third day on Tuesday as bond yields tumbled on dovish Fed comments and oil prices eased after rallying in the previous session.
The Dow edged up 0.4 percent, the S&P 500 gained half a percent and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite advanced 0.6 percent.
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