Tokyo: Asian stock markets were higher on Thursday as European officials sought a way to fix the region’s debt crisis and China appeared poised to cool rising food costs with price controls rather than interest rate hikes.
Japan’s Nikkei jumped 1.8% to 9,986.45 as shares of insurance companies led gains. The sector benefited from a Nikkei report that said MS&AD Insurance Group Holdings Inc. will sell a total of 300 billion yen ($3.6 billion) in shareholdings.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index added 1.3% to 23,505.16 as financials advanced. The Shanghai Composite index rose 0.6% to 2,856.36 and South Korea’s Kospi added 1.5% to 1,924.62.
China’s government said Wednesday it will subsidize food for poor families and could introduce price controls to dampen double-digit increases in the cost of staples. That relieved some of the anxiety in global markets that China will raise interest rates to control inflation, potentially slowing its rapid economic growth.
Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 edged up 0.2% to 4,631.70 while markets in Taiwan and India also gained. Singapore’s benchmark fell.
In New York on Wednesday, stocks ended mixed as concerns that Ireland will need outside help to repay its debts were coupled with a steep drop in housing construction in the US.
Britain, which is not part of the 16-nation bloc that uses the euro, offered Wednesday to provide additional support to Ireland beyond what it gets from the European Union or the International Monetary Fund.
In the US, construction of new homes fell 11.7% in October, the Commerce Department reported.
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 15.62, or 0.1%, to 11,007.88. The broader S&P 500 rose 0.25, or less than 0.1%, to 1,178.59, and the technology-focused Nasdaq composite index rose 6.17, or 0.3%, to 2,476.01.
In currencies, the dollar rose to 83.29 yen from 83.16 yen late Wednesday in New York. The euro rose to $1.3588 from $1.3552.
Benchmark crude for December delivery was up 71 cents at $81.15 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell $1.90 to settle at $80.44 on Wednesday.