Asian markets higher after wobbly day on Wall Street

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Asian shares logged moderate gains on Thursday after Wall Street stabilized following a sell-off in tech stocks the day before.

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Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 NIK,
+1.21%
rose 1% after the Bank of Japan wrapped up a policy meeting with no major changes, maintaining its near-zero interest rate stance despite a sharp weakening of the yen against the dollar and rising costs for many imported commodities.

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The dollar USDJPY,
+1.03%
rose to 129.70 Japanese yen after the BOJ policy announcement, which indicated the central bank remains determined to keep lending conditions ultra-lax to help support the sluggish economy. It was trading at 128.43 yen late Wednesday.

The US Federal Reserve has begun raising interest rates to counter surging inflation and investors have been selling yen to seek higher returns in dollar-denominated assets.

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Chinese benchmarks recovered from sharp drops as officials highlighted efforts to counter the impact of pandemic shutdowns in many cities.

The Shanghai Composite Index SHOMP,
+0.25%
gained 0.3% and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng HSI,
+1.22%
jumped 1.1%.

Strict lockdown measures in China have added to concerns about slowing growth because of damage to the world’s second-largest economy. The flow of industrial goods has been disrupted by the suspension of access to Shanghai, home of the world’s busiest port, and other industrial cities including Changchun and Jilin in northeast China.

Beijing has been conducting mass testing this week as it decides on what degree of controls to impose in the capital.

Elsewhere, the Kospi 180721,
+0.65%
in Seoul added 0.7% and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 XJO,
+1.02%
surged 0.9%. Benchmark indexes in Singapore STI,
+0.28%,
Taiwan Y9999,
+0.55%
and Indonesia JAKIDX,
+0.59%
gained.

Wall Street ended Wednesday with a lackluster finish as traders braced for more earnings reports from major US companies this week.

The S&P 500 SPX,
+0.21%
saw most of a midday rally evaporated and wound up with a gain of just 0.2%, at 4,183.96. The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA,
+0.19%
also added 0.2%, to 33,301.93. The Nasdaq Comp,
-0.01%
was barely changed at 12,488.93.

The indexes rallied to a strong finish late Monday only to slump on Tuesday. They are all down 1.5% or more so far this week.

Natural gas prices surged as much as 24% over the last day in Europe and the euro weakened after Russia said it would cut off supplies to Poland and Bulgaria. Natural gas and oil prices were already rising as the pandemic eased and demand increased, but the Russian invasion of Ukraine has added to price increases. Crude oil and and natural gas prices have jumped in 2022, pushing up costs for gasoline and heating.

Oil prices fell back Thursday. US benchmark crude oil CLM22,
-1.47%
lost $1.27 to $100.75 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It picked up 32 cents on Wednesday to $102.02 per barrel.

Brent crude BRNM22,
-1.55%,
the standard for pricing international oil, shed $1.41 to $103.54 per barrel.

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Credit: www.marketwatch.com /

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