Asian shares climb after Yellen stimulus remarks

HONG KONG (AFP) - Asian markets rose on Thursday on hopes that prospective Fed chief Janet Yellen will keep its stimulus programme in place, with Tokyo leading gains after third-quarter economic growth data beat forecasts.

The dollar bounced back against the yen after a fall in New York, while Wall Street provided another strong lead with record finishes for the Dow and S&P 500 indexes.

Japan's Nikkei jumped 2.12 per cent, or 309.25 points, to 14,876.41, Sydney added 0.68 per cent, or 36.2 points, to 5,355.4 and Seoul was 0.20 per cent higher, adding 4.00 points to 1,967.56.

Shanghai rose 0.60 per cent, or 12.57 points, to 2,100.51, bouncing back from losses in the previous session that were fuelled by disappointment at a vague reform plan from China's leadership on Tuesday.

Hong Kong added 0.82 per cent, or 185.32 points, to close at 22,649.15.

Investors were cheered by doveish comments from Ms Yellen, nominated to succeed Mr Ben Bernanke as head of the Federal Reserve, as she prepares to face a Senate grilling.

In remarks prepared for Thursday's hearing, Ms Yellen, the current Fed vice-chairman, signalled her support for continuing the central bank's US$85 billion (S$106 billion)-a-month bond-buying until the economy shows signs of a firm recovery.

She said unemployment at 7.3 per cent was too high and reflected an economy running "far short" of its potential. When unveiling the scheme in September last year the bank said it would only start winding it down when the economy was strong enough.

The comments weighed on the dollar in New York, sending it down to 99.14 yen from 99.62 on Tuesday.

But in afternoon Tokyo trade on Thursday it was up at 99.75 yen. The euro fetched US$1.3467 and 134.35 yen, compared with US$1.3492 and 133.73 yen on Wednesday in New York.

The weaker yen provided support to the Nikkei, which was already higher after Japan released data showing the economy grew 1.9 per cent on an annualised basis in the July-September quarter.

While the figure was half the 3.8 per cent seen in the previous three months, it was up from a 1.7 per cent expansion predicted by economists.

The weaker growth comes on the back of falling demand in emerging markets - which have been hit by uncertainty over the US stimulus - while consumption at home has also softened and energy import costs have shot up because of the weaker yen.

On oil markets New York's main contract, West Texas Intermediate for December delivery, was down four cents at US$93.84 a barrel. Brent North Sea crude for December rose 15 cents to US$107.27.

Gold fetched US$1,283.06 per ounce at 8am GMT compared with US$1,276.50 on Wednesday.

In other markets: - Wellington rose 0.17 per cent, or 8.52 points, to 4,927.18.

Fletcher Building closed up 0.21 per cent at NZ$9.70, Warehouse Group rose 1.27 per cent to NZ$4.00 and Telecom slipped 1.51 per cent to NZ$2.29.

- Taipei gained 0.38 per cent, or 30.65 points, to 8,134.91.

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. rose 0.49 per cent to TW$103.5 while smartphone maker HTC fell 0.32 per cent to Tw$153.5.

- Kuala Lumpur gained 1.71 points, or 0.10 per cent, to close at 1,784.20.

UMW Holdings added 4.3 per cent to 12.76, while MISC rose 1.8 per cent to 5.14. Petronas Gas fell 1.7 per cent to RM22.72.

- Bangkok gained 0.78 per cent or 10.92 points to close at 1,415.69.

Coal producer Banpu was up 0.91 per cent or 0.25 baht to 27.75, while energy giant PTT Plc was unchanged at 308.00 baht.

- Singapore closed up 0.77 per cent, or 24.34 points, at 3,191.08.

DBS Bank rose 0.83 per cent to S$17.09 while oil rig maker Keppel Corp gained 1.01 per cent to S$11.

- Jakarta ended up 1.52 per cent, or 65.48 points, at 4,367.37.

State miner Aneka Tambang gained 1.48 per cent to 1,370 rupiah, while mobile phone provider Indosat fell 2.03 per cent to 3,625 rupiah.

- Manila climbed 0.11 per cent, or 6.92 points, to 6,327.88.

- Mumbai ended up 205.02 points or 1.02 per cent to end at 20,399.42 points.