(Photo: REUTERS / Bobby Yip)
Asian stock markets were mostly higher Thursday after details from the Federal Reserve's most recent policy meeting suggested that the central bank might act again to bolster the U.S. economy.
Hong Kong's Hang Seng gained 0.86 percent or 171.34 points to 20,059.12 and South Korean KOSPI Composite rose 0.13 percent or 2.59 point to 1,937.78 while Chinese Shanghai Composite fell 0.14 percent or 2.93 points to 2,104.78 and Japanese benchmark Nikkei were trading flat.
Market sentiment was boosted following the release of surprisingly dovish FOMC Minutes which gave an indication that the central bank was ready to deliver another round of stimulus "fairly soon" unless a substantial and sustainable strengthening of recovery occurred.
Meanwhile, a private sector report showed that Chinese manufacturing activity fell in August compared to that in July and continued to shrink for the tenth straight month, fuelling hopes for further monetary measures from the world's second largest economy.
The HSBC Flash Purchasing Managers Index (PMI), a measure of the nation-wide manufacturing, declined to 47.8 in August, the lowest level in nine months, compared to 49.3 in July, raising concerns about a sharp growth slowdown in the Asia's largest economy.
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"Market mood improved on signs that more policy action from around the world was more likely than what had been priced in. We believe that these signals will lead to a risk-on mood in Asia today, as they point to a set of measures that would provide major support to the global economy and markets," said a note from Credit Agricole.
Japanese stocks were slightly lower as a stronger yen weighed on exporter companies' shares. Panasonic Corp. declined 1.05 percent and Pioneer Corp. plunged 4.50 percent while Honda Motor Co Ltd declined 1.21 percent.
Energy and commodity sector shares led the gains in Hong Kong. Aluminum Corp. of China Ltd. advanced 0.91 percent and China Petroleum & Chemical Corp gained 1.79 percent while Jiangxi Copper Co. surged 2.09 percent.
In Seoul, GS Holdings surged 3.07 percent and SK Innovation Co rose 0.88 percent while Hyundai Elevator Co Ltd slumped 5.37 percent.
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