Asian stock markets higher after Dow hits a new record; Chinese shares fall on inflation data

BANGKOK – Asian stock markets rose Thursday on the heels of another record high on Wall Street and an interest rate cut in South Korea to boost economic growth.

South Korea’s Kospi index rose 0.8 per cent to 1,972.70 after the Bank of Korea lowered its benchmark interest rate for the first time in seven months.

In announcing that it was lowering the rate by a quarter percentage point to 2.5 per cent, the Bank of Korea became the latest central bank, following those in the U.S., Europe, Australia and Japan, to take steps to help their flagging economies.

“Overall sentiment continues to be dictated by central bank actions and hopes of more policy accommodation,” said analysts at Credit Agricole CIB in Hong Kong.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 index rose 0.7 per cent to 14,381.99. Shares of Toyota Motor Corp., the world’s top-selling auto maker, rose 1.5 per cent a day after reporting that its quarterly profit more than doubled. Benchmarks in Singapore, Taiwan and the Philippines rose.

But Hong Kong’s Hang Seng fell 0.2 per cent to 23,203.56 after the Chinese government issued a report showing that inflation rose slightly in April, which could temper any stimulus response by Beijing to China’s shaky economic recovery.

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average closed above 15,000 for a second day, yet another record finish. The Dow climbed 0.3 per cent to end at 15,105.12. The Standard & Poor’s 500 rose 0.4 per cent, to 1,632.69. The Nasdaq composite index gained 0.5 per cent, to 3,413.27.

Benchmark oil for June delivery was up 9 cents to $96.71 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose $1 to finish at $96.62 a barrel on the Nymex on Wednesday, its highest level since April 2.

In currencies, the euro rose to $1.3163 from $1.3159 late Wednesday in New York. The dollar was little changed at 98.82 yen.


Follow Pamela Sampson on Twitter at