Asia Markets: Asian markets gain ahead of ECB meeting

Asian markets mostly gained in early trading Wednesday, ahead of expected further monetary easing by the European Central Bank.

The ECB is expected to take rates even deeper into negative territory at its Thursday meeting. Policy makers have indicated the ECB could introduce a tiered system of deposits, which would see only a portion of deposits subject to negative rates, which could ease a further hit to the banking sector’s profitability.

Investors may also have been encouraged by a lack of bad news on the trade-war front. “There is growing sense that U.S.-China sentiment may be shifting to a state of trade-war neutrality,” said Stephen Innes, Asia Pacific market strategist at AxiTrade, said in a note. Innes also noted the ouster of U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton may be good for global markets. “From a geopolitical risk perspective, it does lessen war-risk premiums, especially in Syria, Venezuela and Iran, and opens the door to more friendly discussion with North Korea,” he said.

Japan’s Nikkei NIK, +0.57%   rose 0.6% and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index HSI, +0.37%   edged up 0.4%. The Shanghai Composite SHCOMP, -0.48%   slipped 0.3% and the smaller-cap Shenzhen Composite 399106, -0.68%   fell 0.6%. South Korea’s Kospi 180721, +0.70%   gained 0.7% as the government said it would file a WTO complaint over Japan’s trade curbs against it. Singapore’s Straits Times Index STI, +0.53%   advanced, while benchmark indexes in Taiwan Y9999, +0.14%   and Indonesia JAKIDX, -0.02%   were about flat and stocks dipped in Malaysia FBMKLCI, +0.08%  . Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 XJO, +0.13%   rose 0.1%.

Among individual stocks, Sony 6758, +1.07%   gained in Tokyo trading, along with Honda 7267, +2.01%   and oil producer Inpex 1605, +3.94%  , while Nintendo 7974, -1.39%   fell after Apple Inc. AAPL, +1.18%   announced pricing for its videogame subscription service. In Hong Kong, HSBC 5, +1.95%   and New World Development 17, +1.77%   rose while CSPC Pharmaceutical 1093, -2.97%   fell. SK Hynix 000660, -0.60%   declined in South Korea while Apple component maker Largan Precision 3008, +3.44%   surged in Taiwan after new iPhones were announced. Rio Tinto RIO, +2.40%   and Westpac WBC, +1.30%   gained in Australia.

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