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ASIA MARKETS: Asian Markets Heat Up After Fresh Records On Wall Street

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01/23/2018 | 05:00am CET

By Gregor Stuart Hunter

Nikkei gains as BOJ stays pat; Samsung bounces back

Most Asian stock markets rose further Tuesday morning, with strong U.S. earnings lifting investor confidence.

Major stock indexes in Japan, Hong Kong and South Korea rose as much as 1% by midday after the U.S. Congress voted to end a government shutdown. They rose despite a U.S. move to impose steep tariffs on imports of washing machines and solar panels, which was aimed mainly at Asian producers.

While Samsung Electronics (>> Samsung Electronics Co Ltd) rebounded 0.6% in Seoul to reverse some of Monday's slide, rival LG Electronics (>> LG Electronics Inc.) fell 2.3% following the U.S. trade action.

"I'm bewildered myself" about the continued stock gains, said Oriano Lizza, sales trader at CMC Markets in Singapore. "What we've seen recently is Asian markets tracking U.S. performance...they're ignoring any negative sentiment and homing in on anything remotely positive such as earnings that have come out of the U.S."

The major U.S. indexes set fresh record highs Monday after leaders in the Senate said they reached a deal to fund the federal government for three weeks as negotiations on a longer-term deal continue. Congress approved the extension after the close of U.S. stock trading.

With 10-year Treasury yields remaining around 2.66%, Japan's Nikkei Stock Average ended morning trading up 0.9%, led by durable consumer goods makers and health-care stocks.

Graphite developer Tokai Carbon (>> Tokai Carbon Co Ltd) climbed 4.4%, putting its surge for the month at 20%, while Mitsubishi Motors (>> MITSUBISHI MOTORS CORPORATION) rose 1.9%.

As expected, the Bank of Japan kept its deposit rate at negative 0.1% and maintained its yield target on the 10-year JGB at around 0%.

The yen hit session highs following the BOJ's first policy statement of 2018, with the U.S. dollar dropping to Yen110.65 from Yen111 earlier. The bank stuck to its view that inflation will likely reach 2% in two years.

"The Bank of Japan has turned more upbeat on the inflation outlook but policy tightening remains a long way off," said Marcel Thieliant, senior Japan economist at Capital Economics. "It marked the first time since July 2014 that the bank didn't lower its inflation forecasts any further."

Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index was recently up 0.8% while indexes in Shanghai and Australia were up similarly.

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