Mar 22, 2008

International Markets - Fed moves drive Asian equities up

Fed moves drive Asian equities up - 19 Mar 2008

Stocks rallied across the board in Asia Wednesday, relieved by a aggressive rate cut of 75 basis points by the Federal Reserve and better-than-expected profit reports from U.S. investment banks.Shares in the battered financial sector rose, led by Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group in Tokyo, Australia & New Zealand Banking Group in Sydney and Industrial & Commercial Bank of China in Hong Kong.

Shanghai-listed stocks snapped a five-day losing streak, shrugging off the central bank's decision yesterday to raise commercial banks' credit requirements by half a percentage point to a record high of 15.5%. China's Shanghai Composite jumped 3.6% to 3,799.01, relieved that the much-anticipated move had been announced. Shares in Shanghai as well as China-related shares in Hong Kong had suffered steep losses in the past few days on worries the People's Bank of China would hike banks' reserve requirements as well as interest rates to control rising inflation.

Japan's Nikkei 225 Average climbed 2.2% to 12,222.31 and the broader Topix index gained 2.5% at 1,192.64. In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng Index advanced 2.6% to 21,942 and the Hang Seng China Enterprises Index, or H share index, soared 4.3% to 11,551.61.

Elsewhere in the region, Australia's S&P/ASX 200 soared 3.5% to 5,262.90, New Zealand's NZX 50 index added 1.4% at 3,467.26, South Korea's Kospi climbed 2.2% to 1,622.94, Taiwan's Weighted index rose 1.8% to 8,204.80 and Singapore's Straits Times index advanced 1.7% to 2,880.38.

In Asian currency trading, the U.S. dollar was quoted at 99.50 yen, compared with 99.72 yen in New York late Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Crude oil for April delivery fell $1.02 to $108.40 a barrel in electronic trading, after closing up $3.74 at $109.42 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.