Asia Perks on Hope from U.S. Fed

Stocks in major Asia Pacific markets made strong gains on Friday, as comments from a U.S. Federal Reserve official led to rising expectations the central bank could ease monetary policy more than expected.

The Nikkei 225 in Japan recovered 420.75 points, or 2%, to 21,466.99, as shares of semiconductor equipment manufacturer Tokyo Electron surged 3.5%.

The Japanese yen traded at 107.66 against the U.S. dollar after seeing an earlier high of 107.20

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng regained 303.74 points, or 1.1%, to 28,765.40

Meanwhile, Anheuser-Busch InBev said it was selling its Australian operations to Japan’s Asahi, adding that it was still interested in “a potential offering of a minority stake of ” Budweiser Brewing Company APAC. That Budweiser listing in Hong Kong was cancelled last week, with the company citing “several factors, including the prevailing market conditions” for the move.

Korean markets closed higher, as shares of industry heavyweight Samsung Electronics advanced 1.5%.

Australia’s stock index also rose, as shares of National Australia Bank jumped 2.2% following its announcement that it had hired Ross McEwan — credited with turning the Royal Bank of Scotland around — as its new CEO. McEwan’s appointment comes as the bank fights to win back customer trust following damaging findings at the Royal Commission inquiry into the country’s financial sector.

The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.7061 after rising from levels below $0.704 yesterday.

New York Federal Reserve President John Williams said Thursday the central bank needed to "act quickly" when the economy was slowing and rates were low. "It’s better to take preventative measures than to wait for disaster to unfold," he said in a speech.

Traders increased their bets on Thursday that the Fed could cut even deeper later this month.

In other markets

In Shanghai, the CSI 300 recouped 39.56 points, or 1.1%, to 3,807.96

In Korea, the Kospi index restocked 27.81 points, or 1.4%, to 2,094.36

In Singapore, the Straits Times Index re-strengthened 16.91 points, or 0.5%, to 3,377.96

In Taiwan, the Taiex Index regained 73.91 points, or 0.7%, to 10,873.19

In New Zealand, the NZX 50 gained 12.06 points, or 0.1%, to 10,753.15

In Australia, the ASX 200 added 51.23 points, or 0.8%, to 6,700.35