Asia stocks boast biggest rise in 15 months

Asian shares enjoyed their best day in 15 months on Friday, after Wall Street boasted its biggest two-day advance since late 2011. -- PHOTO: AFP
Asian shares enjoyed their best day in 15 months on Friday, after Wall Street boasted its biggest two-day advance since late 2011. -- PHOTO: AFP

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Asian shares enjoyed their best day in 15 months on Friday, after Wall Street boasted its biggest two-day advance since late 2011 amid relief the Federal Reserve was in no rush to withdraw stimulus from the U.S. economy.

The gains came even as oil stayed under pressure, suggesting equity investors were beginning to see the positives in lower fuel costs and increased consumer spending power.

Japan's Nikkei climbed 2.1 per cent to erase most of it's recent losses, while Australia's main index romped ahead by 2.2 per cent.

Singapore's Straits Times Index was up 35.63 points, or 1.1 per cent, at 3,279.2 at around 12:30pm.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan put on 1.5 per cent, the steepest daily rise since September last year. Shares in Shanghai hit their highest in four years before running into profit taking.

"Risk sentiment is ending the week on a stronger footing after a poor start," said analysts at Barclays. "Market expectations for ECB QE add to the Fed's upbeat message on U.S. growth and stabilization in Russia."

The Bank of Japan ended its last policy meeting of the year by recommitting to a massive stimulus campaign, printing yen to buy truck loads of government bonds. It also offered a brighter view of the economy in a sign of confidence Japan can weather the global market turbulence and the financial crisis in Russia.

BOJ Governor Haruhiko Kuroda will likely repeat calls for firms to increase wages at his post-meeting news conference, as well as urge Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to press ahead with fiscal and structural reforms.

On Wall Street on Thusrday, investors were still celebrating the Fed's pledge to be patient in raising rates. The Dow surged 2.43 per cent, while the S&P 500 gained 2.4 per cent and the Nasdaq 2.24 per cent.

That was the biggest daily rise for the S&P since January 2013 and left it up 4.5 per cent in just two sessions.

The dollar also regained ground on the yen to 119.24.

With the ECB set to ease and the Fed contemplating tightening, yields have moved decisively in favour of the dollar. In commodities, oil prices managed to steady for the moment after a wild week. Brent inched up 11 cents to US$59.38 having lost over a $1.00 on Thursday, while U.S. crude added 21 cents to US$54.32.