MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Asian shares made modest gains Thursday following a surprise rate cut by the Reserve Bank of New Zealand. Sentiment also benefited from expectations that the European Central Bank will slash interest rates and increase the amount of securities it buys from the market each month.
KEEPING SCORE: Japan's Nikkei 225 was up 1.1 percent to 16,822.08. Australia's S&P ASX 200 rose 0.3 percent at 5,229.40, Hong Kong's Hang Seng index climbed 0.6 percent to 20,115.12 and South Korea's Kospi added 0.5 percent to 1,964.13. China's Shanghai Composite Index fell 1.1 percent at 2,830.54. Southeast Asian markets were mixed.
ANALYST VIEWPOINT: "Today's trading is sandwiched between the Reserve Bank of NZ's surprise rate cut this morning and the European Central Bank's much anticipated announcement this evening," said Michael McCarthy chief market strategist at CMC Markets. "Despite strong leads from overnight share and commodity trading, investor enthusiasm may be subdued by the potential for further ECB disappointment."
NEW ZEALAND CUT: New Zealand's central bank lowered its benchmark interest rate to a record low 2.25 percent Thursday, saying the rate could go lower yet as the country grapples with weak international growth and lower prices for its crucial dairy exports. That pushed New Zealand's S&P/NZX 50 INDEX up 0.7 percent to 6,505.05.
WALL STREET: Stocks edged higher, led by gains in energy companies as prices for oil and natural gas rose. Wednesday marked the 7th anniversary of the bull market, making it one of the longest in history. The Dow Jones industrial average climbed 36.26 points, or 0.2 percent, to 17,000.36. The Nasdaq composite increased 25.55 points, or 0.6 percent, to 4,674.38. The S&P 500 climbed 10 points, or 0.5 percent, to 1,989.26.
ENERGY: U.S. crude shed 5 cents a barrel to $38.21 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It jumped 4.9 percent or $1.79 Wednesday to $38.29. Brent crude, which is used to price international oils, lost 22 cents to $40.85 a barrel.
CURRENCIES: The euro slipped to $1.0972 from $1.0986. The dollar rose to 113.75 yen to the yen from 113.19 yen.