Japanese stocks fluctuate after interest rate move, other markets post gains

SEOUL, Korea, Republic Of - Tokyo stocks finished nearly 3 per cent higher on Friday while the yen dived after after the country's central bank introduced a negative rate interest policy to boost the economy after previous stimulus efforts produced indifferent results.

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Other Asian markets were higher after China's top economy official said there is no basis for the yuan to continuously weaken.

KEEPING SCORE: Japan's Nikkei 225 reversed losses to gain 1.6 per cent at 17,320.08. The index surged as much as 3 per cent briefly after the BOJ announcement. The policy decision is a possible boost for the economy but viewed by investors as negative for banks. Shares of Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group fell 5 per cent. Hong Kong's Hang Seng gained 1.8 per cent to 19,544.72 and the Shanghai Composite in mainland China rose 2 per cent to 2,708.83. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 inched up 0.1 per cent to 4,980.40 while South Korea's Kospi fell 0.5 per cent to 1,897.27. Stocks rose in Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand and the Philippines but fell in Indonesia.

JAPAN RATE: The Bank of Japan said it is imposing a 0.1 per cent fee on some deposits left with the central bank, effectively a negative interest rate. It hopes that will encourage commercial banks to lend more and stimulate investment and growth. Latest data showed Japan's core inflation rate slipped 0.5 per cent in 2015 on low oil prices while consumer spending fell 4.4 per cent in December over a year earlier.

CHINESE YUAN: Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said on Thursday that there is no basis for continuous depreciation of the yuan, China's official Xinhua news agency reported. In his phone conversation with International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde, Li said Beijing has no intention of boosting exports by devaluing the renminbi.

ENERGY TALK: The Kremlin said on Thursday it is actively discussing the instability of oil markets with the world's key producers. Even though Russia said there was no concrete plan for a co-ordinated cut in production, it was enough to push the price of oil higher. Investors hope that talks could lead to production cuts that would begin to alleviate a global supply glut.

SAMSUNG SWINGS: Some Samsung companies were the biggest movers in Seoul after Samsung announced two stock deals. Shares of Samsung SDS dived 14 per cent to an all-time low while Samsung Engineering surged 14 per cent after Samsung said its de facto leader Lee Jae-yong would sell his 2-per cent stake in SDS to buy any unsubscribed shares in the troubled engineering company. Shares of Samsung Card traded 8 per cent higher after reports that Samsung Electronics would sell its stake in the credit card company to another Samsung insurance company.

WALL STREET: U.S. stocks closed higher on Thursday on hopes for an oil production cut and gains in tech stocks. The Dow Jones industrial average climbed 125.18 points, or 0.8 per cent, to 16,069.64. The Standard & Poor's 500 picked up 10.41 points, or 0.6 per cent, to 1,893.36. The Nasdaq composite index rose 38.51 points, or 0.9 per cent, to 4,506.68.

OIL PRICE: Benchmark U.S. crude rose 40 cents to $33.62 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract gained 92 cents, or 2.8 per cent to close at $33.22 a barrel on Thursday. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils, gained 51 cents to $35.31.

CURRENCIES: The dollar jumped to 120.39 yen from 118.84 yen the previous day. The euro weakened to $1.0921 from $1.0932.



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