Most Asia markets up ahead of central bank meetings in US, Japan

HONGKONG (AFP) - Asian markets mostly rose on Monday (Sept 19) as traders gear up for central bank meetings in the United States and Japan this week, hoping the authorities will press ahead with loose monetary policies.

Concern that years of cheap cash could be coming to an end has roiled markets this month, with uncertainty fuelled by conflicting comments from top Federal Reserve officials over the need for an interest rate rise.

A lack of any firm promises from Tokyo about the Bank of Japan's plans has also sparked worries. Years of bond-buying and lavish government spending have had little effect on the country's torpid economy.

"There are growing concerns about the limits of monetary policy's impact on growth," Mr Bernard Aw, a markets strategist in Singapore at IG Ltd, said in an e-mail to clients.

"Unlike the Fed, where investors have a binary view - hike or no hike - of US monetary policy, the BoJ presents a complicated situation. Governor (Haruhiko) Kuroda has repeatedly stressed that they still have many policy tools at their disposal."

STI added 0.8 per cent to end at 2,852.14 nearly 25 points since last close. Hong Kong ended 0.9 per cent higher as investors returned from a three-day weekend to play catch-up with last Friday's regional rally.

Shanghai, which was closed on Thursday and Friday, ended up 0.8 per cent while Seoul gained 0.8 per cent. Sydney, however, closed marginally lower at the end of a day interrupted by technical glitches.

Tokyo was closed for a public holiday.

In early European trade London jumped 0.9 per cent, Frankfurt added 0.7 per cent and Paris put on 0.8 per cent.

The US dollar held on to most of last Friday's gains against the pound and euro after the release of data showing an uptick in US inflation during August.

Oil prices climbed as fighting erupted in Libya, with forces loyal to the UN-backed unity government launching an offensive on Sunday to retake ports seized last week by fighters from a rival administration.

The commodity had fallen to a one-month low before the unrest in the country, which has Africa's largest reserves. West Texas Intermediate was up 76 cents at US$43.79 and Brent added 74 to US$46.51.

However, gains were limited due to a global supply glut and overproduction. Traders are keenly awaiting a meeting between Opec and Russia next week aimed at addressing the issue, although there are worries about the chances of a deal being reached.