China Stocks Jump in Hope of Policy Help

Shares in Asia-Pacific were mixed on Thursday, with mainland Chinese stocks among the biggest gainers regionally amid hopes of policy support from authorities. Singapore and South Korea also announced monetary policy tightening.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 popped 328.51 points, or 1.2%, to 27,172.

The Japanese yen traded at 125.35 per U.S. dollar, stronger than levels above 125.6 seen against the greenback yesterday.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng Index gained 143.71 points, or 0.7%, to 21,374.37.

Shares of CNOOC listed in the city rose 0.87%. Reuters reported Wednesday the Chinese oil firm is preparing to exit operations in multiple Western nations due to fears of sanctions.

Elsewhere, shares in South Korea and Singapore struggled for gains after the central bank in both countries on Thursday announced monetary policy tightening.

The Bank of Korea announced Thursday a 25-basis-point hike in its base rate to 1.5%, a decision predicted by less than half of the economists in a Reuters poll.

Following the decision, the Korean won traded at 1,226.28 per U.S. dollar, still stronger than levels above 1,232 seen against the greenback earlier this week.

In Southeast Asia, the Monetary Authority of Singapore on Thursday also announced a tightening of monetary policy, its third in the last six months.

The Singapore central bank said it will re-center the mid-point of the exchange rate policy band, referred to as the Singapore dollar nominal effective exchange rate, at its prevailing level. The rate of appreciation of the policy band will also “increase slightly.”

The Singapore dollar strengthened to 1.3541 per dollar following the MAS announcement, as compared with levels above 1.364 seen earlier in the week against the greenback.

Australia’s markets climbed, as that country’s unemployment rate remained at 4% in March, according to official data released Thursday.

That was slightly worse than expectations in a Reuters poll for a 3.9% unemployment rate.

The Australian dollar was at $0.7442 following a recent bounce from levels below $0.744.

CHINA

In Shanghai, the CSI 300 recovered 51.83 points, or 1.3%, to 4,191.57.

China’s government announced Wednesday that reserve requirement ratio cuts will be used “at an appropriate time to raise the credit input capacity of banks,” citing details from a State Council executive meeting chaired by Premier Li Keqiang.

That development comes as China has in recent weeks been battling its most severe COVID outbreak on the mainland since the initial phase of the pandemic in early 2020.

In other markets

In Singapore, the Straits Times Index fell 6.37 points, or 0.2%, to 3,335.85

In Korea, the Kospi index nicked higher 0.22 points to 2,716.71.

In Taiwan, the Taiex index lost 56 points, or 0.3%, to 17,245.65.

In New Zealand, the NZX 50 regained 16.59 points, or 0.1%, to 11,891.58.

In Australia, the ASX 200 advanced 44.42 points, or 0.6%, to 7,523.43.