Hong Kong: Asian stock markets rose on Thursday, buoyed by strong corporate earnings and as the Federal Reserve expressed cautious optimism about the strength of the US economic recovery.
Japan’s Nikkei was up 0.7% at 10883.53 points and Australia’s benchmark index was also higher by 0.2%. The MSCI’s index of Asia Pacific shares outside Japan added 0.3%.
Minutes of the Fed’s 25-26 January policy session on Wednesday showed officials were more confident on economic recovery, though the job market recovery remained a concern. .
Wall Street ended higher with the Dow Jones industrial average closing half a percent up, helped by strong results from Dell Inc which beat market estimates, sending its shares up by 11.9%. .
The MSCI All-Country index rose 0.3% to a 30-month peak.
“The mood in global equity markets is extremely positive and if external circumstances don’t change much, the current rally can carry on until the Nikkei reaches 11,000,” said Kazuhiro Takahashi, general manager at Daiwa Securities Capital Markets.
Japanese shares have gained some 6% this year, making it the best-performing Asian market so far in 2011, while Asian stocks outside Japan are down more than 2% on the year to date, largely due to inflation worries and outflows from emerging markets into developed ones.
Brent crude surged to near 2-1/2 years highs above $104 a barrel and U.S. crude for March delivery climbed as high as $85.95 a barrel as anti-government protests spread to other countries in the Middle East.
The rising tensions pushed gold prices higher which was set for a fourth consecutive day of gains.
In the currency markets, the dollar was little changed after weakening in the previous session on news that Iranian warships were en route to Syria. The reports added to resurgent geopolitical tensions in the Middle East, sparking a surge in traditional safe-haven currencies such as the Swiss franc .
Sterling was still nursing losses as investors revised expectations for a rate rise after the Bank of England downgraded its economic growth forecast in its quarterly inflation report, even as consumer prices spiked higher.