HONG KONG — Asian stock markets held fairly steady Friday, holding on to gains in the week driven by U.S. and Japanese central bank policy decisions that fueled investors’ belief that low rates will be around for a few more months.
KEEPING SCORE: Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 index dipped 0.1 percent to 16,786.89 while South Korea’s Kospi crept up 0.2 percent to 2,053.50. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng edged up 0.1 percent to 23,776.37 and the Shanghai Composite Index in mainland China dipped 0.2 percent 3,037.46. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.6 percent to 5,404.50.
GLOBAL OUTLOOK: Markets rallied earlier this week after the Fed and the Bank of Japan both decided to keep key interest rates at the ultralow levels that have fueled a multi-year stock market boom. U.S. policymakers said the case for a rate hike has strengthened but held off for now, adding to speculation that it won’t make a move until December. Investors are now looking ahead to the release next week of a raft of economic data, such as monthly U.S. consumer confidence and durable goods orders and Chinese factory activity, for the latest insights on the world economy’s health.
QUOTEWORTHY: “Global monetary policy is set to remain easy for some time yet,” Shane Oliver, head of investment strategy at AMP Capital in Sydney, said in a report. “Which means the broad environment (i.e. beyond short term event risks) remains positive for shares and growth assets.”
WALL STREET: Major U.S. benchmarks finished with solid gains. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 0.5 percent to 18,392.46. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index gained 0.7 percent to 2,177.18 and the Nasdaq composite climbed 0.8 percent to 5,339.52.
ENERGY: U.S. benchmark crude oil futures lost 52 cents to $45.80 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 98 cents to settle at $46.32 a barrel on Thursday. Brent crude, used to price international oils, fell 44 cents to $47.77 a barrel.
CURRENCIES: The dollar climbed to 101.10 yen from 100.84 yen in late trading Thursday. The euro slipped to $1.1204 from $1.1209.