Stock markets in most of Asia closed higher Thursday as the United States Federal Reserve tempered expectations of a rate hike Wednesday. A continuation of loose monetary policy was also signaled by banks in Europe, including Switzerland and Norway, and the Bank of England is also expected to maintain record-low interest rates at its meeting later Thursday.
A rebound in commodity prices, with crude oil near its December levels, gave a boost to Chinese stock markets. The Shanghai Composite Index rose 1.2 percent while the Shenzhen Composite Index closed 3.56 percent higher, and Shenzhen’s tech-heavy ChiNext climbed 5.55 percent. Chinese stocks were also helped by speculation of commercial banks resuming non-brokerage margin lending, Bloomberg reported. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index closed 1.21 percent higher.
Among other markets in the region, the Straits Times Index in Singapore rose 1.26 percent, the S&P/ASX 200 Index in Australia climbed 0.96 percent and South Korea’s Kospi was up 0.66 percent.
The exception was Japan, where the Nikkei 225 fell 0.22 percent, since a stronger dollar negatively affected export-oriented Japanese companies.
The dollar factor also affected European stock markets for the same reason. London’s FTSE 100 was lower by 0.48 percent in morning trade, the CAC 40 in France was down 1.35 percent and Germany’s DAX fell 1.72 percent.
Stock futures in the U.S. were all trading in the negative territory ahead of market opening on Thursday. The Nasdaq, Dow Jones and S&P futures were all down by about 0.3 percent at 6:30 a.m. EDT.