Asian stocks rose broadly on Wednesday, with Japanese shares rallying on a weaker yen amid expectations the nation's new government led by Shinzo Abe would strive to put the economy back on track. The yen fell to a 20-month low versus the dollar on growing speculation that the Bank of Japan will usher in further easing measures to beat deflation and bolster the economy.
A member of the Bank of Japan's policy board put forward a proposal for open-ended asset buying at the November meeting, minutes from the bank's policy review showed today. The bank should "clearly present" in the statement that it would continue powerful monetary easing mainly through the virtually zero interest rate policy and the purchase of financial assets, "without setting any time-frame," until it achieved a CPI inflation rate of 1 percent, the member said during the policy board meeting held on November 19-20.
The Nikkei average climbed 1.5 percent to a nine-month high, while the broader Topix index added 1.2 percent. The yen's weakness against the U.S. dollar and the euro as well as expectations for policy measures under the new Japanese administration lifted export-linked shares such as Sony and TDK up 4-5 percent, while shares of Toyota Motor rose 1.3 percent. Shipping line Mitsui O.S.K. Lines soared 7.5 percent, consumer credit lender Credit Saison jumped 6.9 percent and brokerage Nomura Holdings added 2.8 percent.
China's Shanghai Composite index rose 0.3 percent, adding to the previous session's 2.5 percent rally. Property stocks gained ground on expectations that China's urbanization will drive demand for home projects. Trading in shares of property developer China Vanke Co was suspended in Shenzhen pending an announcement.
Seoul shares ended almost unchanged on institutional selling as concerns over the looming U.S. fiscal issue weighed on investor sentiment. The benchmark Kospi average edged up 0.43 points or 0.02 percent to 1,982. Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering ended down 0.4 percent despite winning a 1.89 trillion won contract to build a fixed oil platform for Norway's Statoil ASA.
LG Uplus Corp., SK Telecom and KT Corp fell between 0.4 percent and 1.5 percent after the Korea Communications Commission banned them from attracting new customers for up to 24 days starting in January and fined them for providing discriminative subsidies to lure customers. Utilities Korea Electric Power Corp and Korea Gas Corp rose about 2 percent each despite the government's denial of an imminent price hike.
India's benchmark Sensex was adding a percent, with market heavyweight Reliance Industries leading the gainers after the Rangarajan Committee reportedly suggested a complex pricing formula that will lead to near doubling of natural gas price. Traders were seen covering up their short positions ahead of the settlement of near-month derivative contracts on Thursday.
Elsewhere, the markets in Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore were up between 0.1 percent and 0.4 percent, while the Taiwanese market was down marginally. Equity markets in Australia, Hong Kong and New Zealand were closed for Christmas holidays.
by RTT Staff Writer
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