Asia Markets: Asian stocks lift off after Dow 20,000

Asian stock markets were broadly higher early Thursday, tracking overnight gains on Wall Street, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average closing above 20,000 points for the first time ever.

Japan’s Nikkei Stock Average NIK, +1.55%   was up 1.4%, Korea’s Kospi SEU, +0.93%   added 0.9% and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index HSI, +1.33%   rose 1.3%. Markets in Australia were closed for a holiday.

The post-election equities rally in the U.S. has been spurred by hopes of fiscal spending, tax cuts and regulation rollback under the administration of President Donald Trump.

Investors are upbeat that those expectations will soon be realized, given the speed with which Trump has been making executive orders just days into his administration, helping drive gains this week in the U.S.

“He has started to move…He has started to take action,” said Margaret Yang, an analyst at CMC Markets.

On Wednesday, the Dow gained 155 points, or 0.8%, to 20,068, while the S&P 500 added 0.8% and the Nasdaq Composite climbed 1%. For Thursday, the market will be on the lookout for a slew of U.S. data, ranging from jobless claims to new home sales.

“There is more confidence in the U.S…The question is whether [Donald Trump’s] protectionism is going to undermine that,” said Andrew Sullivan, managing director of sales trading at Haitong International Securities.

In Asia, participants in several large markets are closing out positions ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday, said Sullivan, with trading volumes down for the day. “They don’t want to be exposed until China comes back,” he said.

Markets in China, South Korea, Taiwan, and Vietnam will be closed on Friday, with China closed through next Thursday.

Meanwhile, Thursday’s stock gains in Asia were being driven by brokerage stocks. In Japan, Nomura Holdings 8604, +4.54%   was up 4.6% and Daiwa Securities Group 8601, +3.79%   was 3.8% higher. In Hong Kong, U.K. banking giant HSBC Holdings 0005, +1.83%   was last up 1.8%.

In currencies, the New Zealand dollar rose markedly against the U.S. unit after data showed that the country’s inflation rose more than expected in the fourth quarter.

Consumer prices gained 0.4% in the fourth quarter and by 1.3% for the year, Statistics New Zealand said Thursday. Economists had expected consumer prices to rise 0.3% in the last three months of the year and by 1.2% over the year.

The New Zealand dollar rose to US$ 0.7300 from just below US$ 0.7270 before the report. In equities, the New Zealand NZX-50 index NZ50GR, +0.30%   was up 0.3%.

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