Asian stocks rise on Fed restraint, U.S-China trade hopes

Visitor watch a stock trading board at a private stock market gallery in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Friday, Jan. 11, 2019. Asian markets were mostly higher on Friday as investors cheered a more reactive Federal Reserve and U.S.-China trade talks. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian)
Visitor walk under a stock trading board at a private stock market gallery in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Friday, Jan. 11, 2019. Asian markets were mostly higher on Friday as investors cheered a more reactive Federal Reserve and U.S.-China trade talks.(AP Photo/Vincent Thian)

SINGAPORE — Asian markets were mostly higher on Friday as investors cheered a more restrained Federal Reserve and U.S.-China trade talks.

KEEPING SCORE: Japan's Nikkei 225 index advanced 0.7 percent to 20,306.16 and South Korea's Kospi was 0.4 percent higher at 2,071.18. Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 0.1 percent to 26,559.47. The Shanghai Composite index was up 0.1 percent at 2,537.62. Australia's S&P ASX 200 lost 0.2 percent to 5,783.30. Shares rose Taiwan, Singapore and Malaysia but fell in the Philippines.

WALL STREET: U.S. stocks bounced back from a rocky start on Thursday, recording their fifth straight gain. Macy's suffered its biggest loss of all time, putting a drag on retailers. But industrial companies rallied after U.S. negotiators said China had agreed to buy more energy and agricultural products and manufactured goods. The S&P 500 index gained 0.5 percent to 2,596.64. The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 0.5 percent to 24,001.92 and the Nasdaq composite was up 0.4 percent at 6,986.07. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks climbed 0.5 percent to 1,445.43.

POWELL SPEECH: In a speech on Thursday, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell stressed that the central bank has the "ability to be patient" with its plans to gradually raise interest rates. He echoed the tone of Fed officials who were present at a meeting last month. Minutes of the meeting, which were released a day earlier, showed the officials believed that the central bank could afford to be "patient" with rate hikes, given volatile stock markets, trade tensions and shaky global growth. A market-sensitive Fed is reassuring to investors who fear its tightening policies would send the U.S. economy into recession.

US-CHINA TALKS: Talks between American and Chinese negotiators may have ended without significant breakthroughs, but traders are choosing to focus on the positives. The fact that talks lasted a day longer than planned, the release of conciliatory statements from both sides and the possibility of higher-level talks in the near future are fueling gains in Asia.

ANALYST'S TAKE: "The sentiment pendulum has swung from U.S. recession fears to optimism for a dovish Fed and positive US-China trade talks. The return of risk appetite, in turn, has pressured the U.S dollar lower," DBS Group Research strategists Philip Wee and Eugene Leow said in a commentary.

ENERGY: Oil prices eased after rallying for the ninth consecutive day. Benchmark U.S. crude dropped 18 cents to $52.41 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract is has surged by 23.7 percent since Dec. 24. It added another 23 cents to $52.59 per barrel on Thursday. Brent crude, used to price international oils, shed up 29 cents to $61.39 per barrel. It gained 24 cents to $61.68 per barrel in London.

CURRENCIES: The dollar eased to 108.26 yen from 108.43 yen late Thursday. The euro rose to $1.1520 from $1.1501.

____

AP Markets Writer Marley Jay contributed. He can be reached at http://twitter.com/MarleyJayAP

You may also interested in

Fears for Indonesian park's rare species as Trump...

Mar 29, 2017

A sprawling "Trump Community" that will rise next to a pristine national park in West Java has...

Prosecutors seek caning for gay couple in...

May 10, 2017

Shariah prosecutors in Indonesia's conservative Aceh province are seeking 80 lashes for two men...

Shariah court in Indonesia sentences gay couple...

May 17, 2017

A Shariah court in Indonesia's conservative Aceh province has sentenced two gay men to public...

East Timor court drops premier's libel case...

Jun 1, 2017

An East Timor court has dismissed a criminal defamation case brought by the country's prime...

Indonesia lifts threat to ban encrypted app...

Aug 1, 2017

Indonesia's information technology minister says the government will allow the encrypted messaging...

News

Sign up now!