Asian Shares Mostly Higher As Fed Taper Worries Fade

Asian stocks ended broadly higher on Monday as weak U.S. hiring in August fueled expectations the Federal Reserve would not rush in tapering its asset buying plans in the September meeting.

Chinese and Hong Kong shares advanced as investors awaited cues from China’s trade and inflation data due out later in the week.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite index rallied 40.12 points, or 1.12 percent, to 3,621.86 while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index rose 261.64 points, or 1.01 percent, to finish at 26,163.63.

Japanese shares posted strong gains on optimism over the planned exit of Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga. Investors are expecting Suga’s successor to “push for speedier and more active spending” of stimulus money.

The Nikkei average climbed 531.78 points, or 1.83 percent, to 29,659.89, marking its highest level since April 19. The broader Topix index closed 1.28 percent higher at 2,041.22, a 31-year high.

Gainers were led by marine transportation, securities house and machinery issues. Nippon Telegraph and Telephone jumped 3.7 percent and SoftBank gained 2 percent amid expectations that there will not be further pressure to lower mobile phone fees.

Australian markets ended on a flat note ahead of Reserve Bank’s policy decision on Tuesday, with analysts undecided on whether the central bank will put off its tapering plans.

Miners fell broadly, with Fortescue Metals Group shares plunging almost 11 percent. Banks ended mostly higher to post modest gains while energy stocks fell broadly on weaker oil prices. Oil Search lost 2.4 percent and Santos gave up 1.8 percent after they have extended their mutual period of due diligence for a merger deal.

Strong bullion prices helped lift gold miners, with Northern Star Resources climbing 1.8 percent and Newcrest Mining adding 2.5 percent.

Seoul stocks finished marginally higher as investors weighed chances of a delay in the Fed’s tapering timeline. Leading chemical firm LG Chem rallied 3.5 percent while top lender Kakao Bank slumped 4.2 percent.

New Zealand shares ended flat with a positive bias. The benchmark NZX-50 index ended up 11.16 points at 13,300.03, extending gains for the seventh straight session. Sky Network Television and Pacific Edge jumped 5-6 percent while Serko fell over 2 percent.

U.S. stocks ended mixed on Friday as disappointing jobs and services sector data sparked questions about the economic recovery from the pandemic.

U.S. non-farm payroll employment rose by 235,000 jobs in August after soaring by an upwardly revised 1.053 million jobs in July, official data showed. Economists had expected employment to jump by about 750,000 jobs.

Despite the much weaker than expected job growth, the unemployment rate fell to 5.2 percent in August from 5.4 percent in July, matching economist estimates.

Another report showed U.S. service sector growth slowed from a record pace in August.
The Dow dipped 0.2 percent and the S&P 500 edged down marginally, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite edged up 0.2 percent to reach a new record closing high.

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