Asia shares rise on supportive Fed as Biden unveils new stimulus

Early in the Asian trading day, MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was up 0.1 per cent.
Early in the Asian trading day, MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was up 0.1 per cent.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

HONG KONG (REUTERS) - Asian shares rose in early trade on Thursday (April 29) after the US Federal Reserve said it was too early to consider rolling back emergency support for the economy, and as US President Joe Biden unveiled plans for a US$1.8 trillion (S$2.4 trillion) stimulus package.

Fed Chair Jerome Powell said on Wednesday that "it is not time yet" to begin discussing any change in policy after the US central bank left interest rates and its bond-buying programme unchanged, despite taking a more optimistic view of the country's economic recovery.

Mr Powell's comments came before Mr Biden's unveiling of a sweeping package for families and education in his first speech to Congress.

Excerpts of Mr Biden's speech released in advance by the White House "hit the high points - big infra(structure) spend, talking climate action and vaccines," said John Milroy, investment adviser at Ord Minnett. "The Fed remains dovish, all very supportive."

Early in the Asian trading day, MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was up 0.1 per cent.

Australia's S&P/ASX 200 edged up 0.31 per cent, as strong oil prices lifted energy stocks.

China's blue-chip CSI300 index was 0.65 per cent higher in early trade. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index opened up 0.7 per cent, Seoul's Kospi added 0.37 per cent and Taiwan shares rose 0.48 per cent.

Singapore's Straits Times Index was up 0.2 per cent at 10.23am local time.

Markets in Japan were closed for a holiday but Nikkei futures edged 0.05 per cent higher to 28,970.

Tech shares got a boost after Apple Inc on Wednesday posted sales and profits ahead of Wall Street expectations, though it warned a global chip shortage could dent iPad and Mac sales by several billion dollars.

Nasdaq futures were 0.79 per cent higher and S&P e-mini futures added 0.48 per cent after Wall Street ended lower on Wednesday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.48 per cent to end at 33,820.38 points, while the S&P 500 lost 0.08 per cent to 4,183.18.

The dollar dropped 0.15 per cent against the yen to 108.43 and the euro gained 0.2 per cent to 1.2147 following the Fed's decision to maintain supportive policies.

Oil prices extended gains on Thursday after rising 1 per cent in the previous session as bullish forecasts for a demand recovery this summer offset concerns of rising COVID-19 cases in India, Japan and Brazil.

Brent crude for June rose 0.37 per cent, to US$67.52 a barrel while US West Texas Intermediate crude for June was at US$64.12 a barrel, up 0.41 per cent.

Spot gold added 0.42 per cent to US$1,788.72 an ounce.