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Thursday, September 28, 2023

Asian stocks cheered by Fed reassurance, yen awaits Bank of Japan

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Asian stocks rose on Wednesday following a positive lead from Wall Street with Japan’s Nikkei reaching a 5-1/2 year high, while the yen took a defensive stance ahead of the outcome of the Bank of Japan’s (BOJ) policy meeting.

MSCI (NYSE: MSCI – news) ‘s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 0.2 percent, reversing some of Tuesday’s 0.4 percent decline. Australian stocks advanced 0.2 percent, while the South Korean market climbed 0.4 percent.

Tokyo’s Nikkei gained 0.9 percent, breaking above 15,500 for the first time in over five years.

“The buying just doesn’t stop,” said Kenichi Hirano, operating officer at Tachibana Securities.

“Today, if the Nikkei gets above 15,500, volatility could increase, trading could become choppy, but with foreigners still buying Japanese shares, the trend might still point upward for a while.”

Investors took heart after two senior Federal Reserve officials dampened market speculation that the U.S. central bank might start tapering its stimulus programme this year.

That helped the Dow and the S&P 500 close at new all-time highs on Tuesday.

Markets will be looking for more clues on the Fed’s next move when Chairman Ben Bernanke testifies before Congress later on Wednesday.

His remarks will be followed by the release of minutes of the last Fed meeting, which economists expect to give further details of how it will eventually manage the exit from ultra-easy policy.

“Market participants will be looking for any hints of potential changes in the Federal Reserve’s asset purchase programme” Nomura analysts wrote in a note.

“With unemployment high and inflation below target, we do not think that the FOMC is ready to scale back its accommodation. Consequently, we do not expect the Chairman’s testimony or the minutes to signal that a change in policy is imminent.”

Closer to home, the BOJ will take centre stage when it announces its policy decision at 4:30 a.m.-6 a.m. British time. This will be followed by a media briefing by Governor Haruhiko Kuroda.

The BOJ is expected to stand pat on monetary policy, but may front-load bond purchases or offer funds via market operations more frequently to help ease recent volatility in bond markets.

Last month, the BOJ unleashed the world’s most intense burst of stimulus, promising to inject $1.4 trillion (923.5 billion pounds) into the economy in less than two years to meet its pledge of achieving 2 percent inflation in roughly two years.

Following recent encouraging data, Japanese exports rose a less-than-expected 3.8 percent in April from a year earlier, marking a second straight month of gains.

Caution ahead of the BOJ decision kept the yen pinned down. The dollar, which climbed 0.2 percent against the Japanese currency on Tuesday, held steady at 102.52.

The euro rose 0.3 percent to 132.56, adding to Tuesday’s 0.4 percent gain.

Commodity markets were subdued ahead of the key central bank events. Copper traded at $7,373.00 a tonne, while Brent crude was a touch softer at $103.54 a barrel.

(Additional reporting by Dominic Lau and Lisa Twaronite in TOKYO; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)

Source: Reuters

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