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Asian shares climb on firmer lead from Wall Street after US debt limit deal

  • Most Asia markets climbed on Wall Street's stronger lead following a debt limit deal in the U.S.
  • Bank of Canada unexpectedly raised interest rates by 25 basis points
  • Investors awaited the ECB interest rate decision

Most Asian markets closed higher on Thursday, following the stronger lead from Wall Street overnight on political developments out of Washington.

Japan's Nikkei 225 rose 0.2 percent, or 38.55 points, to close at 19,396.52.

Across the Korean Strait, the Kospi bounced 1.14 percent to end at 2,346.19 after falling previously for five consecutive sessions. The broader index was driven by gains in brokerages, automakers and some tech stocks: Samsung Electronics closed up 2.38 percent and Hyundai Motor rose 1.47 percent.

South Korean markets were also likely buoyed by news that the U.S. had decided to put aside plans to terminate a trade deal with it.

The S&P/ASX 200 closed flat at 5,689.9 as strength in the telecommunication services and utilities sub-indexes was offset by losses in health care and gold miners.

Greater China markets edged down. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index was off 0.26 percent at 3:08 p.m. HK/SIN. On the mainland, the Shanghai Composite slipped 0.56 percent to finish at 3,366.4324 while the Shenzhen Composite erased earlier gains to lose 0.343 percent, closing at 1,972.7394.

Symbol
Name
Price
 
Change
%Change
NIKKEI
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HSI
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ASX 200
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SHANGHAI
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KOSPI
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CNBC 100
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President Donald Trump on Wednesday broke with his party to support a package that included a short-term debt ceiling extension. If Congress passes the package, which also includes relief funding for Hurricane Harvey, it would prevent a default on the federal debt.

Equities in the U.S. closed higher on the developments, with the Dow Jones industrial average edging up 0.25 percent, or 54.33 points, to close at 21,807.64.

The dollar lost some ground after strengthening against the Japanese currency on the news overnight. The greenback fetched 108.96 yen at 3:10 p.m. HK/SIN, after trading as high as 109.27 overnight.

The greenback was mostly flat against a basket of currencies. The dollar index last stood at 92.149, compared to levels around 92.185 seen in the last session.

A lack of substantial developments on the Korean Peninsula also likely contributed to an improvement in risk sentiment in markets overnight, National Australia Bank FX Strategist Rodrigo Catril said in a note.

Gold prices edged up to $1,337.78 an ounce after sliding earlier in the session on fading risk aversion. The yellow metal had hit a one-year high of $1,344.21 on Tuesday, according to Reuters.

Ahead, markets awaited the European Central Bank's interest rate decision expected later Thursday. While President Mario Draghi had previously remarked that the central bank's quantitative easing program would be discussed in "the fall," new announcements on the program could only come in October.

Besides its asset buying program, strength in the common currency could also be on the central bank's radar after the euro climbed to a two-and-a-half year high against the dollar. The euro climbed higher to hold firmly above the $1.19 handle ahead of the decision, trading at $1.1938 at 3:15 p.m. HK/SIN.

"We expect Draghi to strike a cautious balance between giving the first clear hints at the upcoming tapering and dovish sounds to rein in foreign exchange markets. This is a tough tightrope to walk across," ING Asia Head of Research Rob Carnell said in a morning note.

In other central bank-related news, the Bank of Canada raised interest rates by 25 basis points on Wednesday, taking the overnight lending rate to 1 percent. The move, mostly unexpected by markets, gave the Canadian dollar a boost. The loonie extended gains on Wednesday to trade at $1.2210 to the dollar.

Elsewhere, Malaysia's central bank held interest rates steady at 3 percent on Thursday. The Malaysian ringgit was firmer against the greenback, trading at 4.2105 to the dollar compared to the 4.2370 level seen in the previous session.

In corporate news, Toshiba stock closed flat after falling more than 1.5 percent earlier in the day. That move lower came after a Reuters report that no deal was reached on the sale of the company's memory chip business despite it reviewing an updated proposal from Western Digital.

On the energy front, oil prices slipped after rising more than 1 percent overnight as U.S. Gulf Coast refineries began resuming operations. Global benchmark Brent crude was off 0.11 percent at $54.14 a barrel and U.S. West Texas International crude shed 0.24 percent to trade at $49.04.

Energy markets were cautious of the approach of Hurricane Irma, a category 5 storm, which could potentially hit different parts of Florida. Two other tropical storms in the Atlantic, Jose and Katia, were declared hurricanes late on Wednesday.

Here's the economic calendar for Thursday (all times in HK/SIN):

  • China FX reserves are also due

— CNBC's Jacob Pramuk contributed to this report.

Correction: This story has been updated to reflect the correct timings for the release of Australia retail sales and Malaysia's central bank rates decision.