• Asian shares up after Wall St rallies on Fed minutes

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    HONG KONG: Asian markets rose on Thursday, taking their lead from a Wall Street rally after minutes from the US Federal Reserve’s latest policy meeting showed no support for an early rise in interest rates.

    While early gains were pared after China said imports and exports fell sharply in March, Hong Kong and Shanghai were lifted by hopes of new government stimulus and news of a plan to increase access between the two cities’ stock exchanges.

    Tokyo ended flat, edging up 0.43 points to 14,300.12, and Seoul added 0.48 percent, or 9.66 points, to 2,008.61.

    Sydney closed up 17 points or 0.31 percent at 5,480.8 after data showed unemployment had dropped in March below 6.0 percent.

    Hong Kong rose 1.51 percent, or 343.79 points, to 23,186.96 while Shanghai jumped 1.38 percent, or 29.06 points, to 2,134.30.

    Regional investors were given a positive lead from the United States after the Fed minutes showed bank policymakers were broadly in favor of continuing a steady reduction in its stimulus program.

    The news eased fears of an early rise in rates. Last month stocks sank after Fed chief Janet Yellen suggested rates could go up in early 2015, earlier than most analysts had expected.

    “There’s been this overriding fear in the market that tightening would be sooner on the horizon than people imagine,” said Brent Schutte, market strategist at BMO Global Asset Management.

    “Today’s minutes walk back some of those fears.”

    The three main indexes on Wall Street climbed for a second successive day on the back of
    the minutes.

    The Dow rose 1.11 percent, the S&P 500 advanced 1.09 percent and the tech-rich Nasdaq rose 1.72 percent.

    The minutes also put pressure on the dollar as lower interest rates prompt investors to seek better returns elsewhere. The greenback stood at 101.72 yen in Tokyo Thursday, compared with 101.97 yen in New York, while the euro was at $1.3857 and 140.98 yen against $1.3852 and 141.26 yen.

    China trade data disappoints
    China said Thursday that imports slumped 11.3 percent year-on-year and exports fell 6.6 percent. Expectations had been for imports to rise 2.8 percent and exports to increase 4.2 percent.

    The news adds to increasing uncertainty about the Asian economic giant and key driver of global and regional growth following a string of weak indicators, including those on investment and industrial output.

    AFP

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