Asian stocks rise on Fed decision to keep stimulus

OPTIMISM::A rally in Japanese and emerging-market stocks drove the advance. Taipei had a shortened week for the Mid-Autumn Festival break but still closed the week up

Bloomberg and staff writer, with CNA

Sun, Sep 22, 2013 - Page 15

Asian stocks rose, with the benchmark regional index gaining for a third week, after the US Federal Reserve unexpectedly refrained from cutting stimulus and Japanese exports surged.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index climbed 2.6 percent to 140.67 this week. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index touched a record high after the Fed said it needed more evidence of sustainable recovery in the US economy before slowing the pace of US$85 billion in monthly asset purchases.

“The market rallied following the surprise Fed move,” said Daphne Roth, Singapore-based head of Asian equity research at ABN Amro Private Banking. “Maybe the Fed would rather be late in tapering stimulus than be too early and set whole economy back. Asian stocks will probably continue higher since we continue to see quite good data even from China. North Asian exporters are benefiting from improvements in developed economies.”

Japan’s TOPIX rose 5.3 percent this week to a two-month high, with reports showing the nation’s exports jumped the most since August 2010 as the trade deficit narrowed.

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index gained 1.1 percent, touching a five-year high. New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index climbed 1.7 percent, reaching a record on Sept. 19.

Singapore’s Straits Times Index increased 3.8 percent.

Holidays cut trading this week to four days in Hong Kong, three days in Taiwan and China, and two in South Korea.

South Korea’s KOSPI added 0.6 percent and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index advanced 2.6 percent, while the Shanghai Composite Index lost 2 percent.

Taiwan’s TAIEX gained 0.8 percent to close at 8,209.18 on Wednesday, the week’s last trading day. However, the index was down 40.6 points from Tuesday amid caution about the outcome of the Fed’s two-day policymaking meeting later in the day, dealers said.

Many investors also appeared reluctant to trade ahead of the four-day Mid-Autumn Festival holiday starting on Thursday, as they feared global markets might be rocked by a possible change in Fed policy, they said.

Emerging markets across the region surged the most this week as currencies rebounded after the Fed decision. Thailand’s SET Index rose 6.1 percent, while Indonesia’s Jakarta Composite Index jumped 4.8 percent and the Philippines’ PSE Index surged 4.7 percent.

India’s Sensex gained 2.7 percent, paring gains after the nation’s central bank unexpectedly raised rates to curb inflation.

The Asia-Pacific gauge has rallied 8.8 percent so far this year amid signs China’s economic growth is stabilizing. It was trading at 13.7 times estimated earnings, compared with multiples of 15.5 for the S&P 500 and 14.4 times for the STOXX Europe 600 Index, data compiled by Bloomberg show.