Singapore shares open up 0.57%, Asia markets mostly higher

Singapore shares open up 0.57%, Asia markets mostly higher

Asia markets saw a small rebound Thursday morning, ahead of important data due from China, as well as a monetary policy decision from the Bank of Korea.

In Singapore, the Straits Times Index opened at 2,826.57 in early trade, up 16.14 points or 0.57 per cent, The Straits Times reported.

The Japanese Nikkei 225 was up 0.66 per cent in early trade; South Korea's Kospi added 0.26 per cent, while Down Under, the S&P/ASX 200 wavered between positive and negative, before trading flat.

In New Zealand, the benchmark index was up 0.65 per cent, after the Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ) surprised markets this morning by introducing an interest rate cut. The central bank reduced the Official Cash Rate by 25 basis points to 2.25 per cent.

A majority of the economists polled by Reuters had expected the bank to stay pat on rates.

On its website, RBNZ said the global growth outlook has deteriorated since its December Monetary Policy Statement, due to weaker growth in China, other emerging markets and Europe. The drop in prices for fuel and other imports are keeping headline inflation low, the bank added.

Evan Lucas, a market strategist at IG, wrote in a morning note that following the surprise rate cut this morning, "the market will clearly start pricing in at least one more 25 bps cut and possibly two. Rates could be sub-2 per cent in December."

In the aftermath of the decision, the New Zealand dollar tumbled more than a cent against the greenback, hitting a session low of US$0.6630 (S$0.91), compared with around US$0.68 before the decision was announced. Since then, the pair recovered and traded at 0.6650 as of 7.26am.

US crude futures retreated during Asian hours, falling 0.21 per cent to $38.21 as of 8:25 am after settling up 4.9 per cent overnight. Global benchmark Brent settled up about 4 per cent at US$41.07 a barrel during U.S hours.

Reuters reported overnight that the US Energy Information Administration said crude stockpiles rose 3.9 million barrels last week to reach nearly 522 million barrels. However, gasoline inventories fell 4.5 million barrels.

Energy plays in the region traded higher, with Santos adding 3.43 per cent, Woodside Petroleum up by 0.82 per cent, Inpex gaining 3 per cent and Japan Petroleum up 2.72 per cent.

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