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Asian shares nudge higher following US gains; China GDP is coming

Stock indexes in Asia on Thursday bounced back from declines in the last session, tracking substantial overnight gains on Wall Street. Investors also awaited a raft of China data due later in the day.

Tokyo’s benchmark Nikkei 225 index rose 0.52 percent, with energy-related stocks, automakers and banking names trading mixed. Of note, index heavyweight SoftBank Group declined 0.77 percent.

Fast Retailing, another heavily-weighted constituent of the index, rose 1.13 percent as other retail names saw moderate declines.

The Nikkei 225 touched a 26-year high earlier this week and has risen more than 3 percent so far this year.

In Seoul, the Kospi tacked on 0.35 percent as Samsung Electronics bounced 1.49 percent, reversing losses seen in the last session. Rival chipmaker SK Hynix also saw gains, climbing 1.75 percent in the afternoon. Lotte Shopping fell 1.06 percent as other retail sector stocks traded mixed. The Bank of Korea on Thursday held interest rates steady at 1.5 percent, as was mostly expected.

The central bank was seen as likely to stand on the sidelines due to tighter monetary conditions driven by strength in the Korean won, Trinh Nguyen, senior economist at Natixis, said in a Wednesday note.

Over in Sydney, the S&P/ASX 200 traded higher by 0.1 percent, with gains driven by the heavily-weighted financials sector. Australia’s “Big Four” banks all traded higher on the day: Westpac climbed 1.37 percent and ANZ rose 0.78 percent.

Energy-related plays and junior miners were mostly in negative territory.

The positive sentiment carried over to greater China markets for the most part. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index rose 0.12 percent after recording its second straight record close in the last session. Financials were most higher, with HSBC rising 0.53 percent and China Construction Bank advancing 1.71 percent.

Mainland markets were narrowly mixed. The Shanghai composite edged up 0.12 percent and the Shenzhen composite lost 0.11 percent as banks extended gains seen in the last session.

On the corporate earnings front, Taiwan’s TSMC is slated to announce results on Thursday.

U.S. stocks closed higher, with the Dow Jones industrial average advancing 322.79 points to finish above the 26,000 level for the first time.

Other major stock indexes stateside also saw gains after the release of expectation-topping earnings from several U.S. corporates. U.S. investors also awaited developments related to a potential government shutdown should Congress fail to pass a funding bill by Friday.

Bitcoin appeared to steady after a wild ride last session, which saw the cryptocurrency falling for a time below the $10,000 mark.

The digital currency tumbled as low as $9,199.59 on Wednesday before paring some losses trade at $11,138.15 at 12:37 p.m. HK/SIN, according to industry site CoinDesk. That’s around 43 percent below its all-time high hit in December.

The move lower came after South Korea’s finance minister said this week that the shutdown of cryptocurrency exchanges was an option it was still considering. A Bloomberg report earlier in the week also said China intended to clampdown on the centralized trading of cryptocurrencies.

Meanwhile, the dollar pared some gains against a basket of currencies. The dollar index stood at 90.875 at 12:39 p.m. HK/SIN, a touch below Wednesday’s close of 90.983.

The euro was steady at $1.2189 on Thursday, above an overnight low of $1.2163. The common currency had retreated from a three-year high overnight after several European Central Bank officials on Wednesday noted their concerns over recent strength in the currency.

Against the yen, the greenback traded at 111.40.

Source: CNBC

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