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Asian Stocks Rise as Trading Activities Remain Slow

By investors Hub

Asian stocks rose on Thursday as investors brushed aside concerns that the Federal Reserve could move more quickly to raise interest rates to tame inflation. Trading activity remained relatively thin across the region as some of the markets were closed for public holidays.

Markets in Taiwan and China were closed for the Lunar New Year holidays, while the South Korean markets were closed for Seollal Day.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index ended a shortened trading day nearly 2 percent higher at 31,115.43, led by financials and information technology stocks.

Japanese shares posted solid gains following three consecutive days of losses that took the Nikkei 225 Index to a four-month low on Wednesday.

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The Nikkei 225 Index closed 310.81 points or 1.5 percent higher at 21,464.98 despite a firmer yen and the release of mixed industrial output and core machinery orders data. The broader Topix Index climbed 1 percent to 1,719.27.

Japan’s industrial production grew more than initially estimated in December, while core machinery orders tumbled 11.9 percent from the previous month, separate reports showed.

Exporter Tokyo Electron climbed 4.6 percent, Honda Motor rose 1.3 percent and Sony added 1.9 percent despite the greenback extending its losing streak against the yen.

Lender Mitsubishi UFJ Financial advanced 1.8 percent and insurer Dai-ichi Life Holdings jumped 5 percent. Oil majors Inpex and Japan Petroleum gained 1-2 percent after crude oil prices rose overnight.

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Australian shares rallied, led by miners and energy producers after Dalian iron ore prices hit a three week high and crude oil futures nudged back above $60 a barrel on dollar weakness and data showing a smaller than expected increase in U.S. crude inventories.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 Index jumped 67.80 points or 1.2 percent to close at 5,909, while the broader All Ordinaries Index ended up 68.70 points or 1.2 percent at 6,008.70.

Miners BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto and Fortescue Metals Group climbed 4-6 percent, and energy majors Santos, Oil Search and Beach Energy jumped 2-6 percent.

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Origin Energy soared 6.9 percent after the company narrowed its first-half net loss. Gold miner Evolution Mining rallied 2.2 percent after raising its interim dividend.

Meanwhile, financial services giant Suncorp Group dropped 2.4 percent after its first-half profit declined almost 16 percent from last year on a surge in natural hazard costs and lower revenues.

On the economic front, official data showed that the number of jobs in Australia increased by 16,000 last month to beat forecasts, while the jobless rate stood at 5.5 percent, matching expectations.

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Dipo Olowookere is a journalist based in Nigeria that has passion for reporting business news stories. At his leisure time, he watches football and supports 3SC of Ibadan.

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