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Asian stocks rise ahead of Federal Reserve meeting

Last Updated: Tuesday, March 13, 2012 - 10:14

Bangkok: Asian stock markets rose Tuesday, shaking off a mixed day on Wall Street and slowing growth in China as investors looked ahead to meetings of the US Federal Reserve and Bank of Japan.

The yen's continued retreat from record highs against the US dollar boosted Japan's powerhouse export sector, pushing the Nikkei 225 index in Tokyo up 0.8 percent to 9,969.15.

Elsewhere, South Korea's Kospi rose 1.1 percent to 2,024.16 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng added 1 percent to 21,250.78. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 climbed 1.1 percent to 4.244.50. Benchmarks in Taiwan and Singapore also rose, while mainland China and the Philippines fell.

Traders were awaiting a Federal Reserve policy meeting later Tuesday. Analysts don't expect the Fed to make any changes to its interest rate policy but are waiting to see if the Fed expresses confidence in the economic outlook.

Recent reports suggest that the US economic recovery is gaining momentum. Employers added 227,000 jobs in February, more than analysts were expecting.

The Bank of Japan is also due to conclude a two-day monetary policy meeting later Tuesday and is not expected to loosen policy further. Its benchmark interest rate is already close to zero and the bank recently expanded an asset buying program meant to support the economy.

"We share the majority view in the market that the BOJ will refrain from additional policy easing, after just taking aggressive moves at the previous meeting in February. Economic data have improved significantly compared to one month ago," analysts at DBS Bank Ltd. in Singapore said in a report.

But the global economic outlook remained fuzzy. China's trade figures released on the weekend suggested the world's No. 2 economy continues to slow.

On Monday, Greece implemented the biggest debt writedown in history when private investors agreed to accept big losses on their bond holdings. The move should help Greece stave off default later this month, but the country is still in a severe recession, and deep-rooted problems continue to haunt other struggling European economies.

On Monday, the Dow Jones industrial average rose 0.3 percent, to 12,959.71. The Standard & Poor's 500 rose marginally to 1,371.09. The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite index fell 0.2 percent to 2,983.66.

Benchmark oil for April delivery was up 39 cents to USD 106.73 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell USD 1.06 to finish at USD 106.34 per barrel on the Nymex on Monday.

In currencies, the euro rose to USD 1.3176 from USD 1.3150 late Monday in New York. The dollar rose to 82.29 yen from 82.26 yen.

Bureau Report

First Published: Tuesday, March 13, 2012 - 10:14
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