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Stocks in Asia – Pacific Rally; Bank of Japan Retains Benchmark Rate

Shares in major Asia-Pacific markets rose on Thursday after stocks on Wall Street sailed to record highs as U.S. President Joe Biden was sworn into office.

The Shanghai composite in mainland China rose 1.07% to close at 3,621.26 while the Shenzhen component advanced 1.953% to 15,520.60. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index, on the other hand, slipped 0.12% to close at 29,927.76.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 rose 0.82% on the day to 28,756.86 while the Topix index advanced 0.6% to finish its trading day at 1,860.64.

The Bank of Japan on Thursday kept monetary policy steady. In a widely expected decision, the Japanese central bank kept its target for short-term interest rates at -0.1% and that for 10-year government bond yields at around 0%.

South Korea’s Kospi advanced 1.49% to close at 3,160.84. Over in India, the BSE Sensex crossed the 50,000 level for the first time on Thursday, though it later shed those gains to close 0.34% lower at 49,624.76.

Shares in Australia edged higher on the day, with the S&P/ASX 200 up 0.79% to 6,823.70.

Australia’s unemployment rate came in at 6.6% in December, according to seasonally adjusted estimates released by the country’s Bureau of Statistics on Thursday. That compared against expectations for a 6.7% reading in a Reuters poll, and followed November’s unemployment rate 6.8%.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 0.79%.

Overnight stateside, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 257.86 points to a new closing high of 31,188.38. The S&P 500 also gained 1.4% to a record close of 3,851.85. The Nasdaq Composite soared almost 2% to finish its trading day at 13,457.25, also touching a fresh record. The moves came as Biden was sworn in as the 46th president of the United States.
Currencies and oil
The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 90.193 after an earlier high of 90.452.

The Japanese yen traded at 103.39 per dollar, stronger than levels above 103.8 against the greenback seen earlier in the trading week. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.7769, having risen from levels below $0.77 seen earlier this week.

Oil prices were lower in the afternoon of Asia trading hours, with international benchmark Brent crude futures down 0.66% to $55.71 per barrel. U.S. crude futures shed 0.66% to $52.96 per barrel.