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Asia report: Nikkei reaches another high as rally continues

(Sharecast News) - Markets in the Asia-Pacific region were mostly higher on Thursday, with Japan emerging as a leader in the rally, while South Korea experienced a slight dip. Investors were looking ahead to US inflation data for December, due later in the global day, and digesting the Bank of Korea's decision to maintain interest rates.

"Asian stocks followed the upward trend seen in the US despite the absence of significant driving factors, as markets anticipate the release of US CPI data," said Patrick Munnelly at TickMill Group.

"The Nikkei 225 continued its impressive rally, surpassing 35,000 points for the first time since February 1990.

"The Hang Seng and Shanghai Composite also saw gains, with Hong Kong showing positivity driven by tech and autos, while the mainland market slightly lagged ahead of potential tensions related to the upcoming election in Taiwan."

Japan leads gains as rally continues, Seoul slips back

Japan's markets demonstrated robust gains, with the Nikkei 225 jumping 1.77% to reach 35,049.86, while the Topix index posted a rise of 1.57%, closing at 2,482.87.

Leading performers on Tokyo's benchmark included Itochu, up 4.5%; KDDI, ahead 4.21%; and Hitachi, which added 4.2%.

In China, the Shanghai Composite index saw a modest increase of 0.31% to reach 2,886.65, while the Shenzhen Component displayed stronger gains, rising by 1.47% to close at 9,053.88.

Among the top risers in Shanghai were Clenergy Xiamen Technology and Huali Industries, which rose 10.1% and 10%, respectively.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index advanced 1.27% to settle at 16,302.04, led higher by WuXi Biologics, up 8.75%; WuXi AppTec, which rose 6.68%; and Meituan, which was ahead 5.37%.

South Korea, on the other hand, experienced a slight decline, with the Kospi index slipping by 0.07% to reach 2,540.27.

Notable decliners included EcoPro Materials and GS Retail, which were down 6.46% and 4.26%, respectively.

Australia's S&P/ASX 200 displayed a modest gain of 0.5%, closing at 7,506.00, as South32 rose 5.03% and Iluka Resources closed 4.55% firmer in Sydney.

In New Zealand, the S&P/NZX 50 index posted a minor increase of 0.29%, reaching 11,803.02.

Summerset Group and Auckland International Airport were notable performers, rising 2.6% and 2.1%, respectively.

In currency markets, the dollar was last down 0.22% on the yen to trade at JPY 145.44, while it saw a slight decrease of 0.08% against the Aussie to AUD 1.4914.

The greenback also experienced a decline on the Kiwi, last slipping 0.32% to change hands at NZD 1.6008.

On the oil front, Brent crude futures were last up 1.58% on ICE at $78.01 per barrel, while the NYMEX quote for West Texas Intermediate was ahead 1.64% at $72.54.

Bank of Korea stands pat on rates, imports decline in Australia

In its latest decision, the Bank of Korea (BOK) again opted to keep its benchmark lending rate unchanged, marking the eighth consecutive occasion of maintaining the status quo.

South Korea's central bank maintained interest rates at 3.5%, a decision that aligned with the predictions of economists polled by Reuters.

The country recently saw a slight easing in inflation, with consumer prices rising by 3.2% last month.

The BoK's objective is to bring inflation down to the 2% range by the end of 2024 or in early 2025.

Meanwhile, trade data from Australia showed a notable decline in imports during November.

Import figures registered a substantial drop of 7.9%, equivalent to a decrease of AUD 2.99bn.

The decline was primarily attributed to reduced imports of non-industrial transport equipment.

On the export front, Australia experienced an increase of AUD 789m, equivalent to a 1.7% rise, primarily driven by higher shipments of coal, coke, and briquettes.

The decline in imports was more pronounced than the 2.9% decrease anticipated in a Reuters poll, while export growth exceeded expectations, with November marking an eight-month high in exports.

Reporting by Josh White for Sharecast.com.

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Important information: This information is not a personal recommendation for any particular investment. If you are unsure about the suitability of an investment you should speak to one of Fidelity’s advisers or an authorised financial adviser of your choice. When you are thinking about investing in shares, it’s generally a good idea to consider holding them alongside other investments in a diversified portfolio of assets. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future returns.

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