Sydney Hits 4-Year High; Asia Risk Appetite Up


Asian stock markets climbed higher on Thursday led by Australian shares, which hit a four-year high on strong corporate earnings. Risk sentiment was also boosted by firm gains in Japan and Hong Kong ahead of a weekend meeting of G20 central bank officials.

Japan's benchmark share average ended up 0.5 percent after the Bank of Japan kept monetary policy steady and raised its assessment of the economy, as widely expected by market participants.

Despite Soft GDP, Japan Capital Spending to Grow

Promising earnings spurred the rally in electronic equipment makers, which were the best performing sector. Shares of component maker Taiyo Yuden lead gains by 16 percent after raising its full-year profit outlook.

Asahi Group jumped nearly 6 percent after the Japanese brewer on Wednesday posted record sales and net profit for the year ended December 31.

Seoul shares finished marginally in the green, up 0.2 percent in a choppy session after the Bank of Korea held interest rates steady for a fourth straight month, in line with market expectations.

Tech heavyweight Samsung Electronics edged up 0.2 percent, extending a three-day winning streak.

Headwinds That Will Hurt Rio Tinto Earnings

Australia's benchmark gained 0.8 percent, it's highest closing level since September 2008.

Miners rallied ahead of Rio's earnings results due after the closing bell,which could determine whether Australian shares continue their bull-run. Australian stocks are up more than 6 percent so far this year.

Global iron ore giants Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton increased 2.3 and 2.7 percent respectively while Atlas Iron jumped 7.7 percent.

Shares in Alumina rose 7.5 percent after Chinese financial firm Citic Resource Holdings paid A$452 million for a major stake in the aluminum producer.

Hong Kong's benchmark Hang Seng Index came off session highs to finish up 0.8 percent as it returned to trade after a 3-day holiday.

CNOOC shares were higher by 1.9 percent after the U.S. government approved its $15.1 billion purchase of Canadian oil-sands operator Nexen.

Property and financial plays were among the biggest movers, with China Resources Land gaining 3.3 percent and Industrial and Commercial Bank of China rising 2.5 percent.

Financial markets in China remain shut this week for the Lunar New Year holidays.

In Southeast Asia, Singapore's Straits Times Index ended down 0.3 percent, while Malaysia's KLCI Composite Index finished flat.

Both India's benchmark BSE Index the broader 50-share NSE Index closed down 0.7 percent.

Coming Up This Week:

FRIDAY: Earnings from Billabong, Gindalbie Metals, OCBC and Singapore Technologies; China January FDI; G20 meeting begins.