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Asian Shares Move Mostly Higher In Muted Trading

stockmarkets jan17 10feb22 lt

Asian stocks ended mostly higher in muted trading on Thursday, as investors awaited the release of U.S. consumer price data later in the day for further signs of accelerating inflation.

The inflation report will help set expectations for how the U.S. Federal Reserve will set monetary policy at its March 15-16 meeting.

Chinese shares ended on a positive note after reports of state-backed funds intervening in the stock market. The benchmark Shanghai Composite index rose 5.96 points, or 0.2 percent, to 3,485.91, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index edged up 0.4 percent to settle at 24,924.35.

Japanese shares advanced as tech stocks followed their U.S. peers higher. Upbeat earnings results from Honda Motors also offered some support.

The Nikkei 224 Index rose 116.21 points, or 0.4 percent, to 27,696.08 after having climbed nearly 1 percent earlier in the session. The broader Topix closed 0.5 percent higher at 1,962.61 ahead of a public holiday on Friday.

Chip-related companies topped the gainers list, with Advantest rallying 2.8 percent. Tokyo Electron added 1.8 percent and Screen Holdings gained 2.3 percent.

Automaker Honda Motor soared 5.6 percent after raising its full-year operating forecast. Rival Toyota Motor declined 2.7 percent and technology investor SoftBank Group gave up 2.3 percent.

Australian markets eked out modest gains after NAB's quarterly cash earnings topped forecasts. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index inched up 20.20 points, or 0.3 percent, to 7,288.50, extending gains for a third straight day. The broader All Ordinaries Index ended up 22.70 points, or 0.3 percent, at 7,595.50.

Lender National Australia Bank surged 4.5 percent after reporting a 9 percent increase in first quarter profit, driven by growth in its home and business lending.

The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) ceased its quantitative easing campaign today after buying up more than A$350 billion ($251.23 billion) in bonds as part of a massive pandemic stimulus package.

Seoul stocks finished marginally higher amid cautious sentiment ahead of the U.S. inflation data. The benchmark Kospi edged up 3.08 points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,771.93. Samsung Electronics, Naver and SK Hynix climbed 1-3 percent.

New Zealand shares ended slightly lower even as the earnings season kicked off with a strong result from Vulcan Steel. The benchmark NZX-50 Index slipped 20.90 points, or 0.2 percent, to close at 12,413.05. Dual-listed Vulcan Steel advanced 1.8 percent and Sanford rallied 4.7 percent.

U.S. stocks closed higher overnight, with tech stocks leading the surge for a second straight session amid expectations that fears about a more aggressive hawkish cycle are a bit overdone.

The Nasdaq Composite index spiked 2.1 percent, while the S&P 500 rallied 1.5 percent and the Dow rose 0.9 percent.

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