Asian markets advance after Dow logs highest close since May on hopes for Fed action

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Asian shares rise amid hopes for Fed action

BANGKOK — Asian stock markets mostly advanced Tuesday as hopes for more action by the Federal Reserve to prop up the U.S. economy extended Wall Street’s rally into a fourth week.

As the Fed meets to discuss interest rates there is a growing expectation that the central bank’s rate-setting committee could relaunch programs to buy Treasury and mortgage bonds — lowering rates on such debt to stimulate the economy in a move known as quantitative easing.

An influential private research group’s finding that the “Great Recession”, which started in December 2007, had ended in June 2009 also helped to lift Wall Street.

Analysts expect growth in Asia to remain robust over the next year despite weakness in advanced nations. Still, any improvement in the sluggish U.S. economy — a key market for the Asia’s exporters — would be a boost for the region.

“Market participants are waiting for tonight to learn whether the Fed unveils any new asset purchase plan or hints at doing so in future,” brokers India Infoline said in a report.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 stock average gave up early gains to fall 27.25 points, or 0.3 percent, to 9,598.17 as the country returned from a Monday holiday. Investors were keeping watch on rising tensions with China over the detention of a Chinese fishing boat captain near disputed islands. Beijing severed high-level contacts with Japan on Sunday and called off a visit by Japanese youth to Shanghai.

Japanese consumer electronics retailer Yamada Denki Co. lost 1.1 percent amid concerns about a potential drop-off in Chinese tourists.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index rose 0.1 percent to 22,004.24 and Singapore’s benchmark gained 0.3 percent to 3,089.40. Markets in India, Malaysia, New Zealand and Thailand also gained.

The Shanghai Composite Index dropped 0.2 percent to 2,584.14 and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 was off 0.2 percent at 4,624.20. South Korean financial markets were closed for a national holiday.

In New York on Monday, the Dow Jones industrial average rose 145.77 points, or 1.4 percent, to 10,753.62 in its highest close since May. The broader Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 1.5 percent to 1,142.71. The Nasdaq composite rose 1.7 percent, to 2,355.83.

In currencies, the dollar fell to 85.54 yen from 85.72 yen. The euro rose to $1.3092 from $1.3063.

Benchmark crude for October delivery was down 61 cents at $74.25 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose $1.20 to settle at $74.86 on Monday.

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