Asian stocks up, Shanghai jumps on ECB comments
AFPHONG KONG--Asian shares were mostly higher Monday, led by a surge on the Shanghai index after the securities regulator raised hopes for increased foreign investment in China's stock market.
January 15, 2013, 12:09 am TWN
The euro made further gains after upbeat comments last week by the European Central Bank chief, and the yen slid again after reports that the Bank of Japan and government were poised to set a 2-percent inflation target.
Shanghai surged 3.06 percent, or 68.74 points, to 2,311.74 after the head of China's securities regulator, Guo Shuqing, said the investment quota for foreigners in the domestic equity market could be increased tenfold.
Hong Kong rose 0.64 percent, or 149.19 points, to 23,413.26, Seoul added 0.52 percent, or 10.37 points, to 2,007.04 and Sydney closed up 0.22 percent, or 10.2 points, at 4,719.7.
But Singapore slipped 0.31 percent, or 9.91 points, to 3,206.59, pulled down by property stocks after the government introduced new measures at the weekend to cool the local market.
Tokyo was closed for a public holiday.
At a Hong Kong conference Monday, Guo said at present investment by foreign institutions — individuals are barred — accounts for “just 1.5 or 1.6 percent” of China's A-share market, stock denominated in the domestic yuan currency.
He said the quota could be increased tenfold in an effort to boost the stock market, without elaborating.
There was no clear lead from Wall Street, where stocks closed in mixed territory on Friday.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 0.13 percent, the broad-based S&P 500 was flat, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite rose 0.12 percent.
Investors were looking ahead to a speech by U.S. Federal Reserve chief Ben Bernanke later Monday.
Minutes from the December meeting of Fed policymakers showed they were divided over how long the central bank should continue asset purchases.
But dealers thought Bernanke was likely to put an end to speculation that U.S. policymakers may end the quantitative-easing program, with expectations about his comments pushing down the U.S. dollar.
“I'd be shocked if he said anything other than they're buying bonds for the long haul,” said Davis Scutt, a currency trader at Arab Bank in Sydney.
After tumbling Friday when the Japanese government unveiled a stimulus package, the yen slid further as reports said the Bank of Japan and the government would jointly set a 2-percent inflation target following pressure from new Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
The two sides are to finalize a joint statement on monetary measures in time for the central bank's policy meeting on Jan. 21-22, the Asahi Shimbun reported.
A weaker yen helps the country's many exporters, as it makes their products cheaper abroad.
Gold was at US$1,668.39 at 1035 GMT compared with US$1,669.80 late Friday.
In other markets:
— Wellington rose 0.54 percent, or 22.16 points to 4,153.92.