Japan Leads Asia Stocks Higher After Fed Comments, Trump Speech

  • Fed’s Dudley, Williams keep March rate hike possibility open
  • Mayne fell after Trump said drug prices need to be lowered

Trump's Address to Congress in Three Minutes

Japan led Asian stocks higher after hawkish remarks from Federal Reserve officials bolstered investor confidence and U.S. President Donald Trump’s speech to Congress offered no surprises.

Japan’s Topix closed 1.2 percent higher, posting its steepest gain in two weeks as the weakening yen helped exporters advance. Twice as many stocks gained as those that fell on the MSCI AC Asia Pacific Index as of 4:09 p.m. in Hong Kong. Trump said he will seek $1 trillion in infrastructure investment and called on lawmakers to expand health savings accounts and tax credits. Singapore’s Straits Times Index advanced the most in six weeks.

“There’s no surprise, and with volatility decreasing, it may be a little easier to buy stocks now,” said Tomoichiro Kubota, an analyst at Matsui Securities Co. in Tokyo. “It’s one more Trump risk out of the way. The market will be shifting their focus toward the Fed now.”

The odds of a U.S. interest rate hike in March surged to 80 percent from 34 percent a week ago after Fed officials William Dudley and John Williams both signaled a willingness for a hike as early as this month. Fed Chair Janet Yellen is scheduled to give a speech on Friday. 

Read more: Investors take on Trump’s low-on-details speech

In Sydney, Mayne Pharma Group Ltd. fell after Trump said Congress needs to bring down “artificially high” drug prices. Separately, government data showed Australia’s economy grew faster than estimated in the last quarter of 2016.

In China, the official factory gauge strengthened in February as producer prices rebounded before the National People’s Congress this weekend. Indonesia’s PT Matahari Department Store fell the most in five years after JPMorgan Chase & Co. cut its outlook on the company.


SUMMARY

  • Japan’s Topix +1.2%, Nikkei +1.4%
    • Yen -0.6% to 113.49 per dollar
    • Toyota Motor +1.6%, SoftBank Group +2.6%, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial +1.3%
  • Hang Seng Index +0.2%, HSCEI -0.1%, Shanghai Composite +0.2%
    • HSBC +0.6%, Galaxy Entertainment 5.5%, AIA +0.5%
  • ASX 200 -0.1%
  • Jakarta Stock Exchange Composite Index -06%, Malaysia’s KLCI Index +0.4%, Philippines Stock Exchange PSEi Index -0.6%
  • India’s S&P BSE Sensex +0.7%; Axis Bank +1.7% as mid-sized banks extended a rally on merger speculation
  • South Korea’s Kospi is closed for a holiday

— With assistance by Yuko Takeo

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