Asia Stocks Rise On Yellen’s Outlook

Asian stocks rose Thursday, with the Nikkei Average hitting a three-month high, as investors were reassured by the Federal Reserve’s commitment to low interest rates.

The S&P 500  closed Wednesday at a record after Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen gave a relatively upbeat assessment of the economy. Speaking after the central bank’s latest policy meeting, Ms. Yellen said that interest rates would stay low for a relatively long period.

The dollar fell against major currencies, as investors who had expected the Fed to shift to an accelerated schedule for the increase in interest rates were disappointed.

The dollar  softened 0.2% against the yen on Wednesday, and was steady during Asian trade — last at ¥101.93.

Japan’s Nikkei Average  shrugged off the stronger yen, typically a headwind for stocks in Tokyo, and was last up 1.4% at 15,328.03 — the first time that the index has traded above 15,300 since March 7.

“The Fed didn’t say much that the market hadn’t already perceived; hence U.S. stocks’ generally positive reaction overnight,” said Nicholas Smith, equity strategist at CLSA. “More interesting is the fact of Japan shares’ divergence from the dollar/yen market gyrations; the market is up strongly despite a weaker dollar.”

Shares in Sharp Corp.    jumped 4.5% in Tokyo after the firm announced that it had developed an LCD panel that can be cut into any shape, which could potentially pave the way for a wide range of applications. Also in Japan, shares in Nippon Sheet Glass  surged 14.5% after Nomura Securities upgraded the company to buy from neutral.

Also supporting regional sentiment were comments from Chinese Premier Li Keqiang that the Chinese economy would avoid a hard landing to hit its 7.5% growth target this year. This helped commodity stocks, especially in Australia, where the S&P/ASX 200  added 1%.

Strong gains in miners helped the Australian benchmark move higher, bouncing back from declines in recent sessions. Spot iron-ore prices rose 1% to $90.30, helping BHP Billiton   and Fortescue Metals Group   gain 2.3% and 3.4% respectively.

Elsewhere in Asia, South Korea’s Kospi  was up 0.3%, the Philippines’ PSEi l ost 0.5%, and Singapore’s Straits Times Index  added 0.1%.

In China, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index  added 0.1%, and the Shanghai Composite  was also 0.2% lower.

Source : Marketwatch