Asian Shares Mostly Higher In Cautious Trading

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Asian stocks ended mostly higher on Friday as global growth optimism outweighed lingering geo-political tensions arising from the Ukraine conflict.

Hopes for a peace deal waned after a fourth straight day of talks between Russian and Ukrainian negotiators ended without tangible progress. Growth optimism prevailed despite the Federal Reserve and the Bank of England both raising interest rates.

China’s Shanghai Composite Index rallied 36.03 points, or 1.1 percent, to 3,251.07 after authorities ignited cautious hopes for more concrete stimulus. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index dipped 0.4 percent to 21,412.40 following a furious two-day surge.

Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Joe Biden are scheduled to speak later today, with the United States expected to deliver a warning that Beijing will pay a price if it supports Russia’s war effort.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index rose 174.54 points, or 0.7 percent, to 26,827.43 as the Bank of Japan offered no surprise, leaving policy ultra-easy, citing risks from rising raw material costs and inflation. The broader Topix closed 0.5 percent higher at 1,909.27.

Japanese core consumer prices in February rose an annual 0.6 percent as energy costs surged at the fastest pace in 41 years due to higher oil prices, government data showed earlier today. The national CPI grew 0.9 percent year-on-year.

Australian markets advanced, led by gains in the energy sector as oil prices have begun climbing again on doubts over the Russia-Ukraine peace talks. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index rose 43.60 points, or 0.6 percent, to 7,294.40, while the broader All Ordinaries Index ended up 49.60 points, or 0.7 percent, to 7,571.20.

Origin Energy, Woodside Petroleum and Santos jumped 2-3 percent after Brent crude futures rose more than $10 a barrel in two sessions.

Seoul stocks gained for the third straight session amid eased Fed uncertainty and on optimism that Turkey’s attempt to mediate the Ukraine-Russia peace talks will yield a positive result. The Kospi edged up 12.51 points, or 0.5 percent, to 2,707.02. Top carmaker Hyundai Motor gained 1.5 percent and chemical giant LG Chem soared 3.9 percent.

New Zealand shares ended the week on a positive note, with the benchmark NZX-50 Index climbing 176.89 points, or 1.5 percent, to close at 12,175.85. Growth optimism prevailed after the government announced it would open up the country’s borders for Australian tourists in April. Auckland International Airport topped the gainers list.

U.S. stocks ended firmly in positive territory overnight as Russia completed a closely-watched bond payment and the latest jobless claims, industrial production and housing starts data painted a positive picture of the economy.

The Dow and the S&P 500 climbed around 1.2 percent each, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite added 1.3 percent.

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