Asian stock markets advanced Monday on renewed hopes that policy makers in the U.S. and Europe will announce further stimulus measures to spur economic growth when they hold policy meetings later this week.
Japan's benchmark Nikkei gained 0.80 percent or 68.80 points to 8635.44, Hong Kong's Hang Seng rallied 1.62 percent or 311.54 points to 19586.50 and South Korea's Seoul Composite rose 0.80 percent or 14.63 points to 1843.79, while India's benchmark BSE Sensex surged 1.53 percent and Chinese Shanghai Composite fell 0.89 percent.
The European Central Bank (ECB), the U.S. Federal Reserve and the Bank of England (BOE) are scheduled to hold policy meetings during this week. Investors are optimistic that central bankers will deliver further policy steps to tackle the deteriorating global economic conditions.
Expectations were particularly high on the ECB after central bank president Mario Draghi pledged last Thursday that the bank was ready to do "whatever it takes" to help support the euro. Sentiment was also supported by comments from the German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande, who said in a joint statement after a conference call on Friday that they will do "everything" necessary to safeguard the single currency. Speculations are running high that the ECB may reactivate its bond purchase program again to prevent Spain from evolving into a full-blown crisis.
However, the Fed will want to wait for more data, on employment in particular, before considering any significant policy changes. The U.S. Department of Labor's monthly non-farm payrolls report, which is the most closely watched economic statement pertaining to the job market and a key gauge for the direction and pace of the economic recovery, will be released Friday. Economists expected a rise of 90,000 jobs last month and an unchanged unemployment rate at 8.2 percent.
“Recent press speculation suggests that the Fed is edging closer to further balance sheet expansion. We suspect that the FOMC will wait for further news on the economic front before embarking on more quantitative easing. Meanwhile, the BoE appears to be edging towards further easing too, but rather than more QE a rate cut is looking like the preferred option. However, we suspect that such action at this week’s MPC meeting is unlikely,” said a note from Credit Agricole.
In Tokyo, Ricoh Co. Ltd gained 1.74 percent and Canon Inc advanced 1.67 percent, while Fujifilm Holding climbed 6.2 percent after reporting a better-than-expected first quarter operating profit, helped by its imaging solutions and information solutions businesses.
Commodity related and casino operator shares led the gains in Hong Kong. Zijin Mining Group Co advanced 1.24 percent and China Coal Energy Co surged 4.38 percent, while Sands China Ltd. rallied 5.71 percent.
The shares of the financials companies went up across the region. Daiwa Securities Group advanced 1.43 percent and Nomura Holdings Inc gained 0.74 percent in Tokyo, while HSBC Holdings Plc advanced 1.71 percent and China Construction Bank Corp. surged 2.63 percent.
Samsung Electronics Co Ltd. surged 3.41 percent and Hyundai Motor Co gained 1.75 percent in Seoul, while in India, HDIL surged 5.57 percent and Tata Motors gained 3.92 percent.