Asian markets rose Thursday amid hopes that the U.S. Fed would announce monetary easing and European policy makers would take concrete measures to tackle the debt crisis looming over the euro zone.
Japan's Nikkei Stock Average rose 1.24 percent, or 106.19 points, to 8639.72. Among major gainers were Honda Motor Co Ltd (1.3 percent), Toyota Motor Corp (1.4 percent) and Nissan Motor Co Ltd (1.6 percent).
The main focus for investors Thursday would be U.S. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke’s congressional testimony on the economic outlook. Investors will be looking for indications of more monetary stimulus by the Fed. This is highly likely given the big negative response in financial markets to the growing euro zone debt crisis and the deterioration of U.S. labor market conditions.
Market sentiment was positive following the U.S. Federal Reserve's Beige Book report, which reflected a positive outlook and stated that the economy was progressing steadily at a moderate pace.
Investor confidence was also boosted by a press conference by the European Central Bank (ECB) in Frankfurt Wednesday as it raised hopes that concrete steps may be taken to handle the economic situation in the euro zone. After leaving interest rates on hold at 1.0 percent, the ECB seemed focused on calming markets at its press conference.
India's BSE Sensex rose 0.98 percent, or 161.96 points, to 16616.26, following positive cues from other Asian markets. Leading the gains in the Sensex were metals, infrastructure and capital goods stocks. Major gainers included Bharat Electronics (3.08 percent), Phoenix Mills (2.37 percent) and Sterlite Industries (1.98 percent). Investors were also showing confidence that the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) would intervene to ease monetary policy, which would in turn boost economic growth.
The Chinese Shanghai composite index fell 0.71 percent or 16.43 points to 2293.13, and Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 0.89 percent, or 164.17 points, to 18684.70. In Hong Kong, major gainers were Wharf Holdings Ltd (3.8 percent), Li & Fung (3.1 percent) and Esprit Holdings (2.9 percent). Stocks of Chinese banks also gained on expectations that China may delay bringing in tighter capital rules. Stocks of Bank of China advanced 0.71 percent and Agricultural Bank of China climbed 1.3 percent.