Asia Stocks Mostly Higher; Sydney Lags

Asian markets were mostly higher on Thursday, following gains on Wall Street, though shares in Sydney fell ahead of this weekend’s federal elections.

Regional investors are anticipating a number of significant events that could impact markets. At the forefront is the monthly labor report in the U.S., out Friday, which will be interpreted as a sign over whether the Federal Reserve will roll back its bond-buying program.

Federal Reserve data released overnight showed that the U.S. economy grew at a “modest to moderate” pace in July and August, according to the central banks “beige book”. This gave a Wall Street a boost, and helped regional markets such as Hong Kong and South Korea push higher.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index rose by 1%, extending a strong run this week for Chinese companies listed in the city. The Hang Seng China Enterprises index also rose 1% to put the index up 5.2% since last Friday.

South Korea’s Kospi   was up 0.6% and the Singapore Strait Times Index  gained 0.9%.

In Australia, there was caution ahead of a federal election over the weekend. On Thursday, the S&P/ASX 200   was down 0.4% ahead of the poll.

The yen   was stable against the dollar after gaining 0.2% overnight – last at ¥99.70 to the dollar compared with ¥99.75 late Wednesday in New York. The main catalyst on Thursday for the yen will be the Bank of Japan’s news conference later in the day, and whether Governor Haruhiko Kuroda will hint at additional easing measures.

With little movement in the yen, the Nikkei  was also steady – last up 0.1%.

Japanese car companies managed to make gains after reporting strong sales in the U.S. in August. Honda Motor Co.    rose 2% and Toyota Motor Corp.   was 0.5% higher.

The Shanghai Composite  was down 0.2%, with shares in companies expected to benefit from the Shanghai’s planned free-trade zone pulling back after strong gains in recent sessions. Shanghai International Port  fell 1%, after surging 95% over the previous nine sessions and Shanghai Jinqiao Export Processing Zone dropped 0.9% after a 70% gain over the same period.

Source : Marketwatch