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Asian Equities Close Mixed on Powell’s Positive Outlook for US Economy

By Investors Hub

Asian stocks ended mixed on Wednesday even as Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell’s upbeat economic view bolstered investor confidence in the world’s largest economy.

In testimony before the Senate Banking Committee, Powell on Tuesday offered a positive outlook for the U.S. economy and reiterated that gradually raising interest rates is “the best way forward.” He also downplayed the potential negative fallout from the ongoing U.S.-China trade dispute.

China’s Shanghai Composite Index fluctuated before closing down 9.69 points or 0.4 percent at 2,788.44. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index eased 64.26 points or 0.2 percent to close at 28,117.42.

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Meanwhile, Japanese shares closed at their highest levels in more than a month, led by gains by automobile and technology stocks. The Nikkei 225 Index rose 96.83 points or 0.4 percent to 22,794.19, its highest level since June 15th. The broader Topix Index closed 0.4 percent higher at 1,751.21.

Toyota Motor, Mazda Motor and Subaru all rose over 1 percent as the dollar hovered near a six-month high against the yen in response to Powell’s comments. In the technology sector, Advantest advanced 1.5 percent and TDK added 1 percent.

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Australian shares also rose, led by material stocks after BHP Billiton posted record annual output for fiscal 2018. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index climbed 41.50 points or 0.7 percent to 6,245.10, while the broader All Ordinaries Index ended up 40.70 points or 0.7 percent at 6,329.10.

BHP shares jumped 3.3 percent, and rival Rio Tinto closed 0.4 percent higher. Financials also closed broadly higher, with the big four banks rising between 0.2 percent and 0.7 percent.

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Fairfax Media jumped 3.3 percent on news the company and its rival News Corp. have agreed to use each other’s printing networks under a deal that will deliver cost savings.

On the other hand, falling oil prices weighed on the energy sector, with Oil Search ending down as much as 2.2 percent. Gold miner Newcrest lost 2.1 percent after gold prices fell more than 1 percent overnight.

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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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