Asian Markets | Shares rise on global optimism

Asian Markets | Shares rise on global optimism

Singapore: Asian stock markets were mostly higher on Wednesday amid expectations low global interest rates will continue to fuel strong economic growth.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng stock index jumped 1.8% while Thailand rose 1.3% and Singapore gained 0.7%. China’s Shanghai index fell 0.3% and Malaysia, Australia and South Korea were little changed.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 stock average rose 0.1% to 11,292.83, as the country’s central bank decided on Wednesday to keep its key interest rate at 0.1%. The bank has not tweaked the overnight call rate target since December 2008.

On Tuesday, minutes of the US Federal Reserve’s March meeting signalled that rates would stay at record lows for the time being to help underpin an economic recovery.

The World Bank said Wednesday it expects the developing economies of east Asia will grow by 8.7% in 2010, more than the bank’s previous forecast in November of 7.8% growth.

China’s economy, whose growth has helped the region’s exporters, likely expanded an annualized 11.5% in the first quarter, DBS Bank said.

Indonesia’s benchmark index rose 0.3%. On Tuesday, Indonesia’s central bank held interest rates unchanged and raised its 2010 economic growth forecast to between 5.5% and 6.0% from a previous expectation of between 5.0% and 5.5%.