Asia report: Most markets rise as Bank of Japan maintains monetary policy
Most markets in Asia finished higher on Friday, after the Bank of Japan sated the expectations of traders by standing pat on its monetary policy.
In Japan, the Nikkei 225 was up 0.77% at 21,450.85, as the yen weakened 0.01% against the dollar to last trade at JPY 111.71.
The broader Topix index added 0.9% in Tokyo, to close its session at 1,602.63.
Markets had their expectations met by the Bank of Japan during the day, as it kept its monetary policy steady, with the short-term interest rate remaining at 0.1%.
The central bank also said it would buy Japanese government bonds in a bid to keep the 10-year bond yields at around 0%.
“[Japan’s economy will] continue its moderate expansion, despite being affected by the slowdown in overseas economies for the time being,” the Bank of Japan said in its policy statement.
On the mainland, the Shanghai Composite was 1.04% firmer at 3,021.75, and the smaller, technology-heavy Shenzhen Composite improved 1.42% to 1,641.37.
The annual National People’s Congress in China came to a close on Friday, with premier Li Keqiang reiterating to media that the country’s legislators would maintain their support for the slowing economy.
Earlier, the delegates passed a new law loosening regulation on foreign investment by a landslide, in what was seen as a move to appease Washington in the country’s ongoing trade war with the United States.
The new law was attempting to help level the rulebook between domestic firms and foreign investors in the country.
There was some criticism of the law change, however, with the American Chamber of Commerce calling some of the provisions “quite general”.
“[The changes] do not address a number of the persistent concerns of foreign companies or foreign-invested enterprises in China,” it said in its statement.
Still, the lobby group welcomed the effort from Chinese legislators to improve the foreign investment climate in the world’s second-largest economy.
The new law will take effect on 1 January 2020.
South Korea’s Kospi was 0.95% higher at 2,176.11, while the Hang Seng Index in Hong Kong rose 0.56% to close at 29,102.26.
Oil prices were down as the region went to bed, with Brent crude last off 0.83% at $66.68 per barrel, and West Texas Intermediate slipping 0.6% to $58.26.
In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 was the odd one out of the region, slipping 0.07% to 6,175.20, with the hefty financial subindex dragging on the wider benchmark as it fell 0.23%.
Across the Tasman Sea, New Zealand’s S&P/NZX 50 was 0.4% higher at 9,473.27, with tourism-related stocks among the winners after fresh data showed a 5.3% increase year-on-year in international visitor arrivals in January.
Tourism Holdings was up 2.1% and airport operator AIAL added 1.8%.
The end of the trading day there was marred by terrorist attacks on mosques in the country’s third-largest city of Christchurch, however, with at least one gunman leaving at least 49 worshippers dead in what appeared to be New Zealand’s worst peacetime mass shooting.
Both of the down under dollars were stronger on the greenback, with the Aussie last ahead 0.17% at AUD 1.4132, and the Kiwi advancing 0.23% to NZD 1.4616.