China stimulus hopes, dollar rise lift Asia stocks

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Asian stock markets were mostly higher Thursday on hopes of additional stimulus in China and the prospect of sustained strength in the U.S. dollar, which could help Asia's exporters.

KEEPING SCORE: Japan's Nikkei 225 rose 0.8 percent to 15,908.16 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng added 0.1 percent to 24,728.09. China's Shanghai Composite gained 0.5 percent to 2,329.07. Stocks in Southeast Asia and India advanced. But South Korea's Kospi lost 0.1 percent to 2,047.59 in their first trading day of the week after holidays. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 fell 0.3 percent to 5,555.50.

CHINA INFLATION: Stocks in mainland China were among the strongest gainers after the country's monthly consumer price index showed a lower inflation rate. Consumer prices rose 2 percent last month from over a year earlier, compared with a 2.3 percent rise in July. Subdued inflation suggests the domestic economy is muted but also gives policymakers headroom to maintain easy access to credit and possibly introduce new stimulus measures. Sentiment was also bolstered by Premier Li Keqiang's remarks that the country will reach its 7.5 percent economic growth target for this year.

WEAK YEN: The dollar continued to gain against the yen and other Asian currencies on expectations the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates from ultra-low levels in coming months because of steady improvement in the U.S. economy; Europe and Japan by contrast are not expected to let up on stimulatory monetary policy. Credit Agricole analysts said in a report that the dollar will rise to 108 yen by the end of this year, even without further policy easing in Japan. It said the yen will be driven higher by rate hike expectations in the U.S.

WALL STREET: U.S. stocks closed higher as Apple Inc., a market heavyweight, jumped 3 percent after announcing new iPhone models and its first watch. The Dow Jones industrial average ended Wednesday up 0.3 percent to 17,068.71. The S&P 500 rose 0.4 percent to 1,995.69 and the Nasdaq rose 0.8 percent to 4,586.52. Apple comprises 8.5 percent of the tech-heavy Nasdaq index.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude for October delivery was down 9 cents to $91.58 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract dropped $1.08 to settle at $91.67 on Wednesday.

CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 106.97 yen from 106.82 yen late Wednesday. The euro fell to $1.2906 from $1.2921.