Asia Trades Higher, Dollar Weakness in Focus

Shares in Asia see-sawed on Thursday but closed higher, as investors digested monetary policy decisions from the Bank of Japan, the People's Bank of China and the Federal Reserve.

The Nikkei 225 Index regained 12.76 points, or 0.1%, to 19,590.14, as the yen strengthened against a weaker U.S. dollar

The Hang Seng Index in Hong Kong galloped 495.43 points, or 2.1%, to 24,288.28

Australian stocks moved above breakeven, as that country’s unemployment rate in February rose to 5.9%, higher than the expected 5.7%.

The government in Canberra is set to spend up to A$2 billion ($1.54 billion U.S.) to expand the output of the Snowy Mountains Hydroelectric scheme by up to 50% to help solve a power crisis.

Against the U.S. dollar, the yen was stronger at 113.3 compared to levels above 114 yesterday and the Australian dollar was stronger at $0.7695 and briefly touched $0.7700 U.S. levels earlier in the session.

CHINA

In Shanghai, the CSI 300 gained 17.87 points, or 0.5%, to 3,481.51

Shenzhen-listed ZTE resumed trade on Thursday after an eight-day hiatus, and added 10% to 16.81 Chinese yuan per stock, which was also the maximum allowed move on the exchange. The telecommunications equipment supplier had plead guilty to violating U.S. sanctions on Iran, and paid nearly $900 million U.S. in settlements

The People's Bank of China raised its short-term interest rate by 10 basis points on both medium-term lending facility loans and its open market operation reverse repurchase agreements. This is the third hike in three months, and a day after Chinese officials warned that tackling debt risks would be a priority.

In other markets

The Kospi Index in Korea picked up 17.08 points, or 0.8%, to 2,150.08

In Taiwan, the Taiex hiked 97.52 points, or 1%, to 9,837.83

In Singapore, the Straits Times Index grew 26.09 points, or 0.8%, to 3,163.52

In New Zealand, the NZX 50 gained 20.68 points, or 0.3%, to 7,151.99

In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 gathered 11.79 points, or 0.2%, to 5,785.79