By Marketwatch and Associated Press
Asian markets gained in early trading Friday following dovish comments by a top Fed official that raised investors’ hopes of an interest-rate cut.
New York Fed President John Williams said in a speech Thursday that since interest rates are so close to zero, cutting them at the first sign of trouble would be the wisest move. A New York Fed spokesman later clarified that Williams was speaking theoretically, and that it was not an indication of future policy action. Still, traders in fed funds futures raised prospects of a half-point rate cut at the Fed’s upcoming meeting in late July to 50% Thursday, up from 34% the day before.
Japan’s Nikkei (NIKKEI:JP:NIK) rose 1.7% and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index (HONG:HK:HSI) gained 1%. The Shanghai Composite (SHG:CN:SHCOMP) advanced 1% and the smaller-cap Shenzhen Composite (SHENHZEN:CN:399106) was up 1.2%. South Korea’s Kospi (KOREA:KR:180721) rose 1.1% while benchmark indexes in Taiwan (TAIWAN:TW:Y9999) , Singapore (SES:SG:STI) and Indonesia (INDONESIA:ID:JAKIDX) all gained. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 (S&P:AU:XJO) ticked up 0.7%.
Among individual stocks, semiconductor and electronics manufacturers Screen Holdings (TKS:JP:7735) and Tokyo Electron (TKS:JP:8035) surged in Tokyo trading. SoftBank (TKS:JP:9984) and Toyota (TKS:JP:7203) also gained. In Hong Kong, Sunny Optical (HKG:HK:2382) , AIA Group (HKG:HK:1299) and CNOOC (HKG:HK:883) advanced. Samsung (KRX:KR:005930) and LG Electronics (KRX:KR:066570) rose in South Korea, and Taiwan Semiconductor (TAI:TW:2330) jumped in Taiwan. In Australia, Beach Energy (ASX:AU:BPT) and mining companies Alacer Gold (ASX:AU:AQG) and Evolution Mining (ASX:AU:EVN) rose.