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Asian Shares Advance After Fed Minutes


Asian stocks finished mostly higher on Thursday after the latest FOMC minutes showed Fed officials expressing a strong degree of caution over the timing of future interest-rate increases.

Many participants thought another increase in interest rates later this year is "likely to be warranted" if the medium-term outlook remained broadly unchanged. However, they also expressed concern about persistently weak inflation.

Chinese shares ended little changed with a negative bias ahead of the Communist Party Congress starting next week. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index was up 79 points or 0.28 percent at 28,472 in late trade.

Japanese shares closed at a more than two-decade high as polls suggesting that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's ruling coalition is heading for a two-thirds majority in forthcoming election helped offset concerns over a firmer yen.

The Nikkei average gained 73.45 points or 0.35 percent to finish at 20,954.72 while the broader Topix index closed 0.20 percent higher at 1,700.13.

Kobe Steel shares closed half a percent higher on bargain hunting after losing over 35 percent this week on data fabrication news. Toshiba Corp rallied 3.8 percent after announcing an additional investment of ¥110 billion to expand flash memory production at its Yokkaichi plant.

Australian shares eked out modest gains, driven by banks after home loan data beat estimates. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index rose 22.40 points or 0.39 percent to 5,794.50 while the broader All Ordinaries index ended 23.30 points or 0.40 percent higher at 5,864.10.

Banks ANZ, NAB and Westpac rose between half a percent and 0.9 percent. Bank of Queensland rallied 1.2 percent as it announced a surprise special dividend after posting impressing earnings numbers.

Energy stocks also closed mostly higher after crude oil prices rose for a third straight session overnight. Woodside Petroleum, Origin Energy and Santos climbed 1-2 percent.

Miners BHP Billiton, Fortescue Metals Group and Rio Tinto lost 1-2 percent after iron ore prices sank on concerns over falling demand during the winter amid the impending steel output cuts in China. Whitehaven Coal tumbled 2.8 percent after unveiling its production and sales figures for the September quarter.

Bellamy's Australia soared as much as 4.6 percent after the infant formula maker raised its outlook for full-year revenue growth.

Seoul shares hit fresh record highs as foreign investors extended their buying streak on rising optimism over earnings. The benchmark Kospi rose 16.60 points or 0.68 percent to 2,474.76.

New Zealand shares closed marginally higher, driven by gains in growth stocks like Synlait Milk while Fisher & Paykel Healthcare led the decliners on valuation concerns. Consumer confidence in New Zealand ebbed in October, the latest survey from ANZ Bank showed today, while a gauge of house prices increased in September from a year ago.

Benchmark indexes in India, Indonesia, Singapore and Taiwan were up between 0.3 percent and 0.7 percent. Malaysia's KLSE Composite was down 0.2 percent even as data showed the country's industrial output growth accelerated unexpectedly in August.

Overnight, U.S. stocks eked out modest gains to close at fresh record highs after Jerome Powell emerged as the front-runner to head the Fed and the minutes from the Federal Reserve's September meeting showed a detailed debate over stubbornly low inflation. The Dow and the S&P 500 edged up around 0.2 percent while the Nasdaq Composite added 0.3 percent.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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