HONG KONG (AP) — Most Asian stocks jumped Thursday as oil prices bounced back and weak U.S. economic data fueled investor hopes that the Fed would slow the pace of rate hikes this year. Japanese shares fell as the yen rose against the dollar.
KEEPING SCORE: Japan's Nikkei 225 lost 0.7 percent to 17,069.96 after the yen strengthened sharply against the dollar, hurting share prices of the country's export manufacturers. South Korea's Kospi added 1.1 percent to 1,911.88 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng advanced 1.7 percent to 19,307.61. The Shanghai Composite Index in mainland China climbed 1.4 percent to 2,777.79. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 rose 1.8 percent to 4,963.30. Markets in Southeast Asia rose.
RATE RETHINK: Investors are dialing back expectations that the Fed will continue gradually raising interest rates after recent data showed the U.S. economy had a weak start to the year. On Wednesday, the private ISM survey found U.S. services companies grew in January at the slowest rate in nearly two years. Meanwhile, the dollar sank after New York Fed President William Dudley told financial news agency MNI that the U.S. central bank would have to take into account tight global financial conditions when considering further rate hikes.
QUOTE: "Market odds of Fed hikes are falling fast," economists at DBS Bank said in a research note. "Back in December, markets priced in close to three hikes in 2016," the report said. "Now they put the odds of a single hike at only 50/50."
WALL STREET: U.S. stocks staged a late turnaround to finish higher thanks to surging oil prices and the weakening U.S. dollar. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 1.1 percent to close at 16,336.66. The Standard & Poor's 500 rose 0.5 percent to 1,912.53 but the Nasdaq composite fell 0.3 percent to 4,504.24.
ENERGY: Oil futures extended gains on the weaker greenback, which makes oil cheaper for international investors buying with other currencies. Benchmark U.S. crude added 36 cents, or 1.1 percent, to $32.64 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract jumped $2.40, or 8 percent, to close at $32.28 a barrel on Wednesday in New York. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oil prices, rose 33 cents to $35.37.
CURRENCIES: The dollar edged up to 118.05 yen from 117.90 yen after losing about 1.7 percent overnight. The euro eased to $1.1083 from a three-month high of 1.1118 in the previous day's trading.