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Market Update

Asian Markets Gain; Earnings, Fed Eyed

Asian markets traded near multi-year highs on Wednesday as upbeat corporate earnings spurred confidence ahead of the Federal Reserve's policy decision later in the day.

Leading the field was Japan's benchmark Nikkei index, up 1.1% at 1:00 p.m. local time, close to the 32-month high of 11,0002.86 it touched yesterday.

The Hang Seng was up 0.2% at the time of writing after hitting its highest intra-day level since May 2011.

Australia's S&P/ASX All Ordinaries was up 0.1% in its 10th consecutive session of gains  as it headed towards its longest winning streak in nearly a decade.

The Sensex was also up 0.1% while the Shanghai Composite added 0.2%.

Trading started on a positive note today as investors focussed on a handful of corporate earnings in the U.S. as well as the Asian region.

Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve is expected to conclude its two-day policy meeting later in the global trading day and investors were hopeful the central bank would continue with its accomodative stance.

Stocks on the move

Much of the stock movement today was earnings-related, with Yahoo Japan Corp. bouncing more than 16% after the company raised its profit outlook for the year, and as it announced plans to buy back around 1.4% of its outstanding shares.

Likewise, Koito Manufacturing Co. Ltd. rose 8.2% after upgrading its full-year profit outlook.

Softbank Corp. moved 2.6% higher after a newspaper report said the telecom operator may report record operating profit on the back of sales of Apple Inc. phones

Central Japan Railway Co. was up 6% after reporting a 49% hike in its nine-month profits.

Some retailers were also in focus after data showed retail sales for December rose 0.4% from a year ago. Fast Retailing improved 2.6% while J. Front gained 1%.

Exporters in Hong Kong notched higher -- global fashion apparel retailer Esprit Holdings climbed 1.1% while Giordano International Ltd. gained 1.3%.

Ports operator China Merchants Holding added 1.7% while Cosco Pacific Ltd. rose 0.8%.

Energy players also found some support -- CNOOC Ltd. bounced 2% while PetroChina Co. and China Petroleum & Chemical Corp. edged up 0.3% each. China Shenhua Energy was up 1%.

Financials were also mostly higher, supporting the broad market gains -- ICBC added 0.5%, China Construction Bank and Agricultrual Bank moved up 0.8% while Bank of China enhanced 0.6%.

In Mumbai, rate-sensitive stocks like banks, auto makers and realty firms bounced back after the RBI slashed key policy rates yesterday.

ICICI Bank added 1.3%, while state-run SBI moved up 0.5%. Maruti Suzuki gained 1.2% while realty giant DLF enhanced 1.7%.

In Sydney, major miners BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto added over 1.5% each while Fortescue Metals Group was up 1.7%.

Oil giant Santos Ltd. jumped over 3% while Woodside Petroleum added 0.6%.

On the other side, Wesfarmers dropped 2% after reporting second-quarter sales numbers.