SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Asian stocks were higher Thursday on expectations for additional European Central Bank stimulus as jitters about tensions between Russia and Turkey faded.
KEEPING SCORE: Japan's Nikkei 225 rose 0.6 percent to 19,959.26 and South Korea's Kospi gained 1 percent to 2,029.13. Hong Kong's Hang Seng added 1 percent to 22,728.93. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 advanced 0.6 percent to 5,224.10. Stocks in mainland China, Taiwan and Southeast Asia also rose. U.S. markets will be closed Thursday for Thanksgiving. They will reopen Friday but will close at 1 p.m. Eastern.
EUROPE FOCUS: Reports ECB officials are considering options for additional easing weighed on Europe's common currency. Next Thursday, the European Central Bank's governing council meets to set monetary policy for the 19-nation bloc of euro countries in Frankfurt, Germany. It has already deployed quantitative easing and some analysts expect additional measures to help revive the moribund European economy and avoid deflation.
QUOTE: "Mario Draghi is not to be second-guessed, every time you think easing is priced in, we hear of new potential measures which raise the markets' expectations even more," said Chris Weston, chief market strategist at IG in Melbourne, Australia. Weston said after media reports on new stimulus in Europe, there were signs that showed "market has become very excited."
RUSSIA-TURKEY: Asian markets dropped earlier this week after Turkey shot down a Russian fighter jet that entered Turkish territory from Syria. Angus Nicholson, a market analyst at IG, said that statements by Russia's foreign minister served to ease investor concerns as it indicated that Russia was not prepared to escalate the tensions with Turkey.
US ECONOMY: U.S. data showed that consumer spending inched up 0.1 percent last month while spending on long-lasting manufactured goods improved in October, after two months of declines. Analysts said the latest data added weight to arguments for the Fed to raise interest rates for the first time in nearly a decade next month.
WALL STREET: U.S. stocks finished flat on Wednesday, one day before the Thanksgiving holiday. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 1.20 points to 17,813.39, while the Standard & Poor's 500 lost 0.27 points to 2,088.87. The Nasdaq composite index picked up 13.33 points, or 0.3 percent, to 5,116.14.
ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude rose 16 cents to $43.20 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 17 cents, or 0.4 percent, to close at $43.04 in New York on Wednesday. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils, added 8 cents to $46.25 a barrel in London.
CURRENCIES: The dollar weakened to 122.58 yen from 122.69 yen in the previous trading session. The euro was little changed at $1.0624.