Japan’s Nikkei 225 rises almost 2%

SINGAPORE — Shares in Asia-Pacific rose on Wednesday, with multiple major markets in Asia remaining closed for the Lunar New Year holidays.

The Nikkei 225 in Japan gained 1.68% to close at 27,533.60 while the Topix index advanced 2.14% to 1,936.56.

In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 climbed 1.17% to finish the trading day at 7,087.70. Those gains came after Reserve Bank of Australia Governor Philip Lowe reiterated in a speech Wednesday that the central bank’s recent decision to end its bond purchase program “does not mean that an increase in the cash rate is imminent.”

“I recognise that in a number of other countries the ending of the bond purchase program has been followed closely, or is expected to be followed closely, by an increase in the policy rate,” Lowe said. “Our lower rate of inflation and low wages growth are key reasons we don’t need to move in lock step with others.”

Lowe’s comments came as investors around the globe have been grappling with the prospect of major central banks tightening monetary policy after almost two years of unprecedented stimulus.

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Elsewhere, in India the Nifty 50 gained 0.9% while the BSE Sensex rose 0.93%, as of 11:39 a.m. local time.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan traded 0.37% higher.

Markets in mainland China, Hong Kong, Singapore and South Korea were closed on Wednesday for the Lunar New Year holidays.

Overnight stateside, shares on Wall Street rose for a third day. The Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped 273.38 points to 35,405.24 while the S&P 500 climbed 0.69% to 4,546.54. The Nasdaq Composite edged 0.75% higher to 14,346.

Currencies and oil

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 96.273 after falling from above 97 earlier in the week.

The Japanese yen traded at 114.76 per dollar, stronger than levels above 115.2 seen against the greenback earlier this week. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.7134 following its rise from levels below $0.702 earlier in the trading week.

Oil prices were higher in the afternoon of Asia trading hours, with international benchmark Brent crude futures up 0.3% to $89.43 per barrel. U.S. crude futures gained 0.28% to $88.45 per barrel.

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