Asian Shares Move Mostly Higher In Cautious Trading

Asian stocks rose broadly on Monday despite data showing another big rise in U.S. inflation last month. Investors were relieved to see that the report was in line with expectations and lower than some had been forecasting.

Traders also kept a keen eye on the upcoming Federal Reserve meeting this week for signals about the tapering of stimulus measures.

Chinese shares rose after the nation’s top decision makers signaled policies may become more pro-growth next year. The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index climbed 14.73 points, or 0.4 percent, to 3,681.08, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index ended 0.2 percent lower at 23,954.58.

Japanese shares advanced notably on growing hopes of an economic recovery and amid a busy week of central bank meetings. The Nikkei 225 Index gained 202.72 points, or 0.7 percent, to finish at 28,640.49, marking its first gain in three sessions after data showed the country’s core machinery orders rose in October for the first time in three months.

Separately, the Bank of Japan’s quarterly Tankan Survey of business sentiment showed that large manufacturing in Japan was stagnant in the fourth quarter. The broader Topix index closed 0.1 percent higher at 1,978.13.

Technology stocks advanced, with Screen Holdings, Tokyo Electron and Advantest climbing 1-2 percent. Orix Corp. added 1.5 percent on reports the financial services group is selling its software business.

Australian markets eked out modest gains, with mining and energy stocks pacing the gainers amid growing optimism that the Omicron impact will be limited.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index rose 25.80 points, or 0.4 percent, to 7,379.30, while the broader All Ordinaries Index ended up 29.60 points, or 0.4 percent, at 7,697.50.

Energy stocks such as Santos and Beach Energy climbed 2-3 percent as oil prices extended their rally. Mining heavyweights BHP and Rio Tinto jumped 2.7 percent and 2.3 percent, respectively, as Chinese iron ore futures bounced back. Property fund manager Charter Hall soared 5.6 percent after another earnings upgrade.

Seoul stocks fell for the second day running as investors adopted a cautious stance ahead of the Fed meeting later this week. The Kospi dropped 8.57 points, or 0.3 percent, to 3,001.66. Tech and auto heavyweights topped the gainers list.

South Korea’s exports grew 20.4 percent year-on-year in the first 10 days of December on the back of solid demand for chips and petroleum products, customs data showed earlier in the day.

New Zealand shares rose sharply as the latest U.S. inflation data didn’t alter views on interest rates. Investors also cheered improved service sector activity data domestically. The benchmark NZX-50 Index jumped 144.51 points, or 1.1 percent, to 12,994.19, with property stocks leading the surge.

U.S. stocks rose on Friday after data showed U.S. consumer inflation rose 6.8 percent annually in November, reflecting the biggest jump since June of 1982 amid supply chain snarls and shortages. Traders seemed somewhat relieved that the price growth was not even faster.

A separate report showed consumer sentiment in the U.S. unexpectedly improved in early December.

The Dow rose 0.6 percent, the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite added 0.7 percent and the S&P 500 advanced 1 percent to a new record closing high.

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