Asian Market Commentary
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Asian Markets Savor Chinese Central Bank Action; Greek Aid Hopes Brighten

2/20/2012 4:49 AM ET

Optimism generated by a Chinese central bank move and lingering hopes that the Troika will finally approve the bailout package for Greece sent stocks mostly higher in Asia on Monday. Australia's All Ordinaries led the gains in the region with a 1.39 percent advance.

The Indian market was closed on account of a public holiday, while the U.S. market will also remain shut in observance of Washington's birthday.

Over the weekend, China lowered the reserve requirement of banks to boost lending. The reduction ensures the release of 400 billion yuan worth of capital into the market, helping to ease short-term credit crunch.

The Eurogroup is set to meet later today in Brussels to discuss about the approval for a second bailout package for Greece, which is facing the threat of a disorderly default if the deal does not materialize.

Japan's Nikkei 225 average opened notably higher but gave back some ground before stabilizing through the afternoon. In the afternoon, stocks eased further and yet closed notably higher. At the close of trading, the index was up 100.92 points or 1.08 percent at 9,485.

In economic news, Japan reported a record trade deficit of 1.48 trillion yen in January, as imports climbed at a faster rate of 9.8 percent year-over-year, while exports fell 9.3 percent. The month's data was, however, impacted by the timing of the Chinese New Year holiday, which fell in January this year.

Australia's All Ordinaries closed 59.50 points or 1.39 percent higher at 4,333. Most sector stocks with the exception of telecom stocks, advanced. Material, energy and healthcare stocks led the gains.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index, which opened higher and moved sideways in the morning, retreated in the afternoon closing down 66.83 points or 0.31 percent at 21,425.

China's Shanghai Composite Index pared most of their gains before closing up 6.42 points or 0.27 percent at 2,364. South Korea's Kospi ended 0.07 percent higher and Taiwanese Weighted Average ended up 0.77 percent.

by RTT Staff Writer

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